Public Condenser

av Stein-Atle Juvik
Cristian Ștefănescu
Marco Casagrande
Pier area in Kleppestø, Askøy, Norway

A common ground for the communities of Askøy

The public condenser intends to provide the communities of Askøy with new indoor, outdoor and roof covered spaces to facilitate a range of parallel activities for multiple user groups among the islanders. The architecture aims to resemble the impression of the historical villages (“grender”) of Askøy with structural elements of different volumes, roof heights and the connection to the waterfront. The site is located at the old ferry wharf area in Kleppestø, and the project is thus my contribution to the ongoing discussion of urban renewal for the municipality centre.

The public condenser – a multipurpose building creating a common ground for the communities of Askøy.

Current State
The site is located within the pier and seafront area in Kleppestø on Askøy, an island on the western coast of Norway, in north-western Europe. In the current land use plan from 2017 the site is set aside for a public building with cultural functions and a square with limited access for motorized vehicles on the land side. To the west the reminds of the previous islet Granholmen is scheduled as a park area. Both the site and all the surrounding pier area is currently publicly owned by the municipality. In a larger context there is planned a center development for Kleppestø as a regional center.

Askøy traditionally consisted of many small settlements or “grender” in Norwegian. Churches, prayer houses and other houses for community purposes were built by local initiative. These buildings often covered the need of one specific organization that built and owned the building. At the same time, these buildings served as gathering places for the local community. This has led to the existence of approximately fifty buildings used for cultural purposes on Askøy today. However, many of these are small, in need of maintenance, and technical upgrade towards todays modern standard. There are no multi-functional buildings for cultural purposes, and the nearest municipality run youth club is in the neighboring municipality. Consequently, there are for all practical purposes no offers for recreational activities for youths not involved in organized after-school activities on Askøy
Aim of the intervention
To create new spaces available for the public where people can meet, recreate, socialize and interact. The intervention aims to contribute towards the vision of shaping the pier area in Kleppestø into an attractive, active and environmentally friendly center area for the whole of Askøy. Demographically the island has a relatively young population where twenty-nine (29) percent of the population is younger than twenty years. This public condenser will provide outdoor and indoor spaces where youths can engage in recreational activities and hang out with friends. This will be the first recreational offer for youths that are not involved in organized after school activities. Despite having a relatively young population the percentage of the elderly population is increasing on Askøy, as in the rest of the country. Thus, the public condenser will also provide a meeting place for a growing elderly population with more time available. Just like the unorganized youths, they have a limited and scattered offer when it comes to places to meet and socialize.

Taking advantage of the placement of the site, it is already a place close to the main traffic junction of the public transportation network on the island, and therefor easily accessible from all settlements on the island. This means that it is convenient to visit both for young people and the elderly, the to demographical groups that most frequently rely on public transport for their mobility needs. During daytime, beginning in the late morning towards the afternoon, the arranged activities in the public condenser will be targeted towards the elderly. Scheduled activities could include yoga classes, dance events and exercise classes for seniors. The digital workshop would be open for editing home videos, photographs and even soundtracks, being anything from recorded interviews done by members of the local history group to younger elderly who pursue their musical interest. Group rooms / workshops will provide spaces for activities ranging from a meeting place for international women groups, interest groups ranging from bird watchers who compare their observations and pictures from Herdla to so called “breastfeeding groups” and more. The café will open from around early lunch time and provide tasteful dishes based on local ingredients. After school hours the public condenser will be dedicated to the younger population. Scheduled activities will now include homework assistant, art courses and digital workshops. It will also be possible to rehearse with your band, hang out with friends, work out in the fitness room and use the game room. As for the overall public square or site area I envision a place that can be used for outdoor markets and public events ranging from outdoor music events to election campaign stands. On the public square there is room to place a canopy that will provide a sheltered area for all the outdoor activities. This will be useful when celebrating New year eve or Midsummer in a town where it rains 200 days of the year.