Daniel Ewald, landscape architect MNLA

The broken connections

Meanwhile, in Sortland…

What is a urban planning strategy that in essence creates an introverted and inaccessible town, where the natural foundations are at taken for granted, in practice ignored; connections lost, architecture randomised and most of the ideal locations for development regulated to industrial sites and/or parking lots?

We presented our in-progress case studies for Sortland city this week. The topics are varied; some wish to revitalise the harbor and sea front, as it is practically inaccessible today – which could hardly be more ironic, Sortland being a coastal town. Some are highlighting the extraordinary recreational areas just minutes away from the town centre and focus on how to integrate them better. A few are making detailed plans for specific sites that need a heavy push in order to work properly in its context; as the town square, essentially a lifeless void today; or the functional needs of the city’s axes, looking into the many obstructions and barriers that halts pedestrian movement fluidity, among other things.

Sortland

The coastal town of Sortland. Photo: Helle Blindheim Strandhagen

I’ve more or less landed on a more overall approach in my concept – I proclaimed in the start of the course that I was hesistant in going into detail here, as I feel “urban acupuncture” provided by smaller scale detail projects simply won’t cut it in a place that requires drastic measures. The first thing I wanted to do to Sortland after exploring was to bring out a monster-sized axe and chop up the storage facilities and low-cost industrial buildings that blocks the entire seaside access; create openings for the breathtaking natural surroundings to be a part of the city again. We need more than just acupuncture here; we need urban surgery.

Cutting volumes

Opening spaces, allowing for connections

Because Sortland has everything: Mountain ranges dated back to the beginning of time, the oldest on the face of the planet, a biodiversity of international importance and global magnificence, natural recreational areas that could rival any of the best hiking areas in existence just a stonethrow distance  away from town…The impressions from this landscape are intense and lasting.

Connections

The project working title is “Operasjon bysnitt” (“Operation town incision”)

At this point in the process, I’ve selected some of the town’s existing axes – or more specifically, sections through the city – and will study how these can in effect be (re)established as both functional and aesthetic connections between the mountainside in the west and the water straight in the east; focusing on ease of access and envisioning the long lines as blue/green structures through the cityscape, allowing inhabitants and visitors to easily navigate through the city and natural surroundings throughout the year without feeling needlessly obstructed by the various barriers along the way. To assist in analysing and visualising my ideas I’ve opted to work more or less fully in 3D; to be able to study sense of space and volume along my selected pathways, helping me to decide where and how to pin-point where I need to “go in with the knife”.

Sortland in SketchUp

Modelling the town and landscape of Sortland

Filed under: Reflections, Sketches, Studies, , , , ,

2 Responses

  1. […] started early on with the impression of a town in need of better structure and planning (see my earlier post), and decided to work in two directions: One to develop a 3D model of the town, so it would be […]

  2. […] Blue-green structures in Urban areas, the broken connections […]

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