Reader's letter in Hallingdølen

DEBATT: Bygdebygningen er like lite en "monster-blokk av betong", slik Kai Jacobsen hevder, som mennesket er en simpel silhuett. Bygdebygningen er et typisk norsk dalføre skrudd til en urban smeltedigel for 5000 innbyggere (ill. a-g-e-s).


Coverage of the exhibition in Hallingdølen

Tekst og foto: Tor Folgerø. Modellfoto: a-g-e-s
Velkommen til det nye Bygde-Norge 
Arkitektane Britt Sørlie og Mathias Harang har konstruert eit monster av ein bygning - ei høgblokk som kan romme ei heil bygd. Bygdebygningen er likevel eit hyggeleg monster, meiner arkitektane. Bygget er energiøkonomisk og berekraftig, og gjev bygda ein off entleg møteplass med urbane kvalitetar.
I påska var arkitektane på plass på på Geilo for å vise fram ein modell av megastrukturen. Utstillinga er å sjå på Turistsenteret ut april.

Småby i éin bygning
Bygdebygningen gjev plass til kring 5.000 innbyggjarar. I tillegg har bygningen alle funksjonar som vanlegvis er samla i ein tettstad.
– Ein kan sjå på Bygdebygningen som ein stor bygning som gjev plass til ein liten by. Det er såleis ikkje berre ein bygning, men ei rekonfi gurering av eit samfunn. Alle tettstadfunksjonar er samla i éin megastruktur. Her kan folk bu, arbeide, og ha fritida si, seier Sørlie.
Ho arbeider med ein doktorgrad om Bygdebygningen ved Fakultet for arkitektur og biletkunst ved NTNU i Trondheim. Bygningen var i haust utgangspunkt for eit studentkurs på Geilo.


Exhibition at Geilo touristcentre

Exhibition of the Village Building is planned to take place at Geilo, Easter 2012


The site at Haugastøl

The Village Building will be located on public land  close to rout 7 and the railway station at Haugastøl, creating a passage above  infrastructure between the mountain and the water, at the point where the main  road crosses the railway. Part of rout 7 will be removed and placed in a tunnel  from north-east towards the Village Building. It is here in the northern  cutting possible to construct a hidden parking garage, under the land fill  strengthening the contact between the landscape and the public square. Hunting  terrain can be found north-west of this site, as well as mountain pastures. The  lake south of the site gets water from glazier, and is therefore not good for  fishing, but can provide good opportunities for different kinds of sport  activities.

In the program of this prototype of  the Village  Building, geriatrics and  sustainability is emphasized. The municipality of Hol already provide good  health service, as for people with dementia, something that is sought to be  further developed in the Village Building. Universal design and  lifecycle-standard is here logical to include. The Village Building is in itself a sustainable  experiment, which is the starting point for a research centre. Students will be  offered term courses in collaboration with the Norwegian Universities. A College  can also be located here.
            The location of the  prototype will attract tourism. Retired and those working are expected to be  buyers, and possibly use the housing units as cabins, while students rent a  place to live through the term. The housing units in the neighborhoods should  provide flexible designs, with the possibility of renting out parts and/or with  the possibility of different use. 


Introduction and programme: Msc in Sustainable Architecture

Student assignment
Course AAR4532

The students will in this course design neighborhoods/blocks within the Village Building in accordance with local climate, related to the site at Geilo and the Village Building in itself. Each neighbourhood/block consists of several sites with different character. The relationships between the neighbourhoods /blocks and the sites in the structure are unusual because they are located above one another, at the same time as they must relate to the whole of the structure. The ramp that runs as a spiral through the Village Building (the public road) constructively divides the neighbourhoods. The gross width of the ramp is 15 meters, the gross height 1,5 meters, and is intended to contain infrastructure of water, waste water, drainage, waste (vacuum waste systems should be considered), cables etc.

Good architectural qualities of the neighbourhood or block in itself as part of the whole of the Village Building are important to succeed.

Investigating sustainable development in relation to the built environment; different scales and approaches must be considered. Technical innovations and improvements can be applied to existing built fabric and incorporated in new developments as they are planned today. But, due to global population growth, networks of transportation and the need to preserve natural resources, it is a question if new typologies and settlement patterns are required. Issues of land use, food production, transportation and communities are in this respect essential, together with systems of energy, water and waste.
This course will focus on a particular development strategy, the Village Building, which was an entry for an open ideas competition in 2006/07. The competition was called “Modern living solutions in the countryside” [Moderne boløsninger på bygda], and the entry for the Village Building was a critic to scattered settlement patterns of the countryside in Norway, as resource demanding at different levels. Economically the Norwegian countryside is subsidised by the state; socially it lacks public and civic arenas, attractive job opportunities, and often has small public service units; ecologically it occupies too much land for infrastructure and buildings, it is energy demanding and dependent on individual transportation. The answer to this statement could be that everyone should live in cities; however, suburbs around cities and urban sprawl have similar problems. Through a reconfiguration of public infrastructure into a compact development strategy for about 5000 people, the Village Building is an alternative that could provide for a more sustainable life in the districts, offering both urban and rural qualities.


Competition description translated from Norwegian:

ECOBOX: 130x120x100
The Village Building
-          or how small can you think big?

The Royal family is still close to the Norwegian people. This also applies to their way of living. The west side of Oslo is the most popular housing area; central, with short distances to all kinds of facilities, to the sea, boat and beach life, to the forest and in walking distant from cultural and less cultural dissipations. At the same time, many people “have to” be able to walk around their houses. These qualities together draw the lines of the Norwegian living-ideal, which could be the King's estate at Bygdøy, with the King’s pasture house as a holiday home. The disadvantage with this is that the Kings property is insuperable expensive for the people, and it is already occupied.

Despite the myth; is it possible that the architect is not ambitious enough? What if there is something wrong with the countryside, that the communities do not have a contemporary physical shape. In the competition program, illustrations of concrete is not displayed once, on the other hand almost 20 tactual surfaces in wood and some asphalt.
In a time with huge changes and possibilities; who wants old clothing, walk in sad shoes, or live in out of date communities? Reason does not lay the foundation for the holiday palace of Røkke, for today cars – SUVs –weighing over two tonnes, accelerating as a racing car and consuming as a lorry, or for the continuous flights to Mallorca, shopping in New York, decoration, or the interest for TV chefs. Behind lies a wish for adventures; but could architecture in Norway be both spectacular and wanted?

About 7000 people move per year only to Oslo city; Blilyst therefore raises a question that exceeds regions, to a national level. In this experiment the potential to establish similar qualities, as in the King's royal palace in the fairytales, to a manageable prize, for most people are examined. It happens in the districts. The challenge is to turn a hillbilly form of living, where everybody’s freedom becomes nobody’s freedom, to a bobbling urban context in contrast with nature. The Village Building addresses this, through an infrastructural concrete skeleton, that can contain about 5000 people.

The Village Building combines countryside values with an urban melting pot, in an iconographic diagram, in its smallest and most concentrated form.
The Village Building is a critic and a development of Le Corbusier`s anti-urban Unitè d`Habitation. A new interpretation of the typical square country courtyard contributes to this. Where the starting point was to establish houses after WW2, the problem now is how to establish attractive space in the countryside.
The Village Building consists of a rectangular plateau, the “country courtyard”, an urban public-square-sandwich over a mechanical main entrance area, encircled by vertical built fabric, where a ramp cuts trough as a residential street. Public functions bobbles through the centre.
The location of the Village Building characterizes the program of the diagram; at regional nodes the public-square-sandwich is given more floors, in agricultural areas the area for machinery will get greater heights and volume, in the mountains the holiday developments will go further down from the top of the ramp. A certain degree of expansion and reprogramming is included.

A tripartite DIAGRAM reflects a typical Norwegian valley:
The public space plateau, perforated in three stories, lies above the main entrance and combine people and functions in the Village Building.
The plateau is a public arena for sports, games and festivals, with a swimming pool, cafés and other things ala a traditional Piazza. Don’t forget the hairdressers.
The public space sandwich contain a shopping mall with stores and post office; important for internet shopping. Show rooms and a catwalk exist for fashion shows and “home parties” of different kinds.
In the outskirts of the plateau fronting the terrain, a riding centre with stables and other domestic animals can be kept; over the terrain and the main entrance; public functions such as homes for the elderly and ill, health center, town hall and police station.
Underneath the plateau there is a production area for industrial agriculture, work shops and machinery, connected to the distribution system; parking, gas station, taxi stand, buss station, plus a lane for cruisers and other car related youth culture.
Up trough the public space, public functions arise up against a sloping elevator shaft, ending as a windmill, organizing the community in the whole cube.
Holes in the plateau create light and playground for a school and a kindergarten. Closest to the plateau the assembly hall hovers; used by the municipality, as a cinema, for conferences, lectures, religious gatherings and funerals; according to a rental system coordinated by the tourist center with an observatory on top.
In between are bobbles/spheres for library and county college.

First the Village Building will constitute a national district political experiment, a deep-ecological research project. A typical Norwegian valley is twisted to become a complete joint community, trough a one and a half kilometre bridge and elevators like the towers of Nordlandsbrua, financed by national oil. The prototype, a typological mutation of the blocks of Tveita and Geilo, morphologically of the high rise Plaza hotel in Oslo, the Norway Post building and Bislett stadium; could later be adapted for all the Norwegian municipalities and create a new layer of national settlement.
A reconfiguration of planning strategies is a premise, public infrastructure are developed as a whole, compact, as a ramp. The buildings are planned and drawn by different architects and the whole developed and built simultaneously, by a handful of investors.
The Village Building is a stranger to the city, but can to it advantage be localised in picturesque surroundings, because of its autonomy also outside regulated settlement zones, as part of protected areas, in connection to cultivated landscapes. It presuppose a priority of a site, for example localised in South-Trøndelag, with daily bus connections to Trondheim, less than two ours from the airport at Værnes.
The Village Building gives the inhabitants views free from neighbours and curtains. The government guarantees no further development within a three-kilometre radius, in a 30-year timeframe. Nearby there are green areas, golf, ski tows and recreation with hunting and fishing, but also agriculture and allotment gardens with individual lots.
The multifunctionality and concentration of the Village Building saves energy in itself, and gives a built in energy-, water- and drainage-system. The form of the cube (130x120x100 meters) makes it possible to close the structure with climatic buffers in cold areas; in the winter and at night. Sun and wind conditions and possible wind tunnels are explored as energy sources. The experimental and ecological features are focused on through research, conferences and a county college with library as the centre of distance teaching.
The Village Building could be self sufficient through its own agricultural production; “Slow Food”, but also a provider for import and export of goods and services, knowledge production, and will constitute a tourist attraction in itself.

A diagram; the farm, a country courtyard and a pasture, the Village Building establishes a modern Soria Moria.

a-g-e-s, by Mathias Harang


Public square and infrastructure; scale 1:100

3D framework of the Village Building prepared in the workshop at the Faculty of Architecture and Fine Art at NTNU, summer 2011.



Publication in Arkitektur N 06 07, page 12


Exhibition by Blilyst : )

The Village Building presented through the installation "Look out".