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Community Landscape - Parametric design in the Frozen Arctic

On October, the public art project Community landscape at Grønnåsen middle school in the city of Tromsø was completed.

Community Landscape - Parametric design in the Frozen Arctic

The art installation, is now the largest in the city, and at 30 meters it can accommodate up to 70 people. The design makes the grandstand a functional work of art, for the benefit of the school pupils, while also serving as a meeting place and social landscape for the district after school hours.

Community Landscape - Parametric design in the Frozen Arctic
Community Landscape, Tromsø 2022

The grandstand creates seating and activity spaces for large and small groups of people, and varies between areas for more private spaces and open landscapes for larger gatherings – just like in a natural landscape. Nature has influenced several elements of the design: the grandstand is set towards the terrain against a natural backdrop, while the very shape of the design is a result of the grandstand making space for an existing tree that is guarded.

Community Landscape - Parametric design in the Frozen Arctic

The city of Tromsø, located north of the Arctic Circle in Norway, is one of the best places to see the spectacular northern lights. With a population of over 70,000, it is the biggest city in Northern Norway and has been home to the world’s northernmost university since 1963. Built on two islands as well as the mainland, Tromsø is also known as the "Port of the Arctic Ocean“, and since 1874 it has been the point of departure for numerous expeditions, including the North Pole expeditions led by Roald Amundsen and Fridtjof Nansen. The city’s spectacular natural setting is underlined by Bjørnådal Arkitektstudio’s 30-metre-long construction offering an amazing view of the mountains around the Arctic city. 

Community Landscape - Parametric design in the Frozen Arctic

Hans-Petter Bjørnådal’s project is more than a public artwork. It is a viewpoint over the sorrounding natural landscape and the biggest art installation in Tromsø and most likely one of the biggest in Norway. The construction’s true purpose is suggested by the title of this public artwork commissioned by the Arctic city: Community Landscape.

The oversized grand stand at Grønnåsen school is intended to be a community meeting-place. 

"Because the art and architecture that really mean something to people are the ones they come into contact with every day. Here, on the bench, students can relax with a view of the basketball court, and after school, all the people in the neighbourhood can find a place to sit with other people, or just enjoy the view. .

explains the architects of Bjørnådal
Community Landscape - Parametric design in the Frozen Arctic

The structure is made of Duraply, a wooden material designed for intense outdoor use. The studio’s founder Hans-Petter Bjørnådal, who has always had a strong focus on sustainability, wishes to demonstrate how a natural, renewable material such as wood can be used in exciting new ways, in this case with the aid of parametric design.

He explains that:

using this technique, we can freely model and create organic shapes in a standardized way. Instead of traditional methods, we use printers and milling machines to create unique shapes. And as this is an art project, we can further expand on these forms.

Community Landscape - Parametric design in the Frozen Arctic

Speaking of forms, it is clearly evident how the Community Landscape naturally becomes a part of the neighborhood and its environment, as a result of the grandstand’s position on the site, which is designed to ensure that the installation becomes a part of its natural surroundings.

Bjørnådal sees the city’s demands as a great source of satisfaction, demonstrating that "the municipality understands the importance of the environment for people who live in the town.“ As an architect, he realizes full well that "our surroundings influence us more than we think.“ This is why creating something beautiful is an act of public good, giving new meaning to the phrase "combining the useful with the enjoyable“.

Project Credits:
Client: Tromsø Kommune
Location: Grønnåsen school, City of Tromsø, Norway
Completed: 1 October 2022
Architect / Artist: Hans-Petter Bjørnådal, Bjørnådal arkitektstudio
Parametric Design: Andrea Mušić & Siemen Cuypers
Consultant: Rambøll Oslo
Carpenter: Lost Coast Woodwork & design
Supplier: Oslo Finerfabrikk

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