Daniel Ewald, landscape architect MNLA

LAA340 – Blue/green structures in urban areas

Sortland fra kaia

Course: Blue/green structures in urban areas. Destination: Sortland, Nordland, Norway.

Our area of study this semester is the town of Sortland, located in Vesterålen in Northern Norway. A town in expansion, as opposed to others in the region, this is a place set in spectacular surroundings; (arguably) competing with the tourism in the more “commercial” Lofoten.

Sortland fra høyden
Sortland seen from the nearby heights.

The town has seen many changes over the years. The latest and most noticeable was an art project launched in correlation with the milennium celebration, painting the town in hues of blue. Since then it has been known as the “blue town”; an identity with its benefits – and challenges.

Impression of Sortland
The impression of Sortland; otherwise known as the “blue town”.

Challenges do not stop at the visual identity, however. When expanding, town planners have been dealing with issues of preservation of agricultural land along with an ever-pressing desire for parking spaces (the town centre hosts an absurd 1200 parking spaces, with an inhabitant count of barely 3000; a remnant of the town planning in the seventies), among other things, resulting in a) a town expanding into the fjord, using stone fills to create new residential areas, facing future challenges with rising water levels and disturbance of local ecological balance; and b) large, anonymous spaces reserved for parking, dominating the town impression and leaving little for quality urban spaces, as well as making the town feel generally fragmented, dislocated and unreadable. In addition, many of the larger scale stores and storage halls have been placed close to the waterfront, effectively reducing views and public access to the water.

Combined, the town feels quite introverted; focusing inwards on the local shopping activity and car traffic passing through, while the breathtaking views of nature and the great potential of quality urban spaces are more left to chance.

In this project we have been given suggestions of specific sites to look at in detail, or the choice of analysing and proposing ideas on a whole-town scale. Initially I had decided to design a site in detail, but observing the general fragmentation of visions and plans, I feel a more valuable project would be to focus on establishing some sort of design guidelines for future development, while highlighting issues with current planning trends in the area.

Filed under: Analyses, Norway, Photos, Sketches, , , ,

One Response

  1. […] Blue-green structures in Urban areas, introduction […]

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