Alta is a laboratory of post-production. Alta is a city for public realm investigations that proposes a place to live in common, altogether. Productivity is always related to the XXth century, teamed with the idea of quantity and efficiency; the continuous accumulation and use of materials and objects. This approach is no longer sustainable – this material production is almost immoral! The growth factor of this new post-industrial economy exists in a permanent state of crisis, where the dismantling process do not always correspond with a recession; but with an increase in social economy, self-production of research and innovation. Transcending into a new liquid modernity where production is no longer objectual and solid; Alta gives us the opportunity to experiment in a new way with weak and diffused urbanization, where a constellation of services and functions re-think the meaning of production. The extreme and dynamic conditions of the local arctic landscape are translated into resources in order to reimagine the urban structure as a system of social innovations. In order to dissolve Alta’s urban sprawl, the intervention operates both extrinsically and simultaneously at a territorial scale, using free infrastructure as open systems that are adaptive and responsive to the harsh climate.
Flexible devices, inspired by the vernacular shape of traditional fish flakes, act as a catalyst in the open space, creating new sites for work, culture, commerce, recreation and urban life. These are not pavilions, but activators that can grow, die, or merge throughout the urban metabolism process.
The Skiferkaia waterfront is transformed into a new performative active urban edge, where the nature of the site plays an important role. By revoking the stonework, the landscape is designed as an unstable surface that changes its shape over time to produce a new artificial form of nature. By playing with the varying grain sizes of the mosaic stone made of the local quartzite, the project becomes a flexible interplay of shapes and alternations of solids and voids. The waterfront develops into a patch of interacting ecosystems, where the natural colonization self- produces a heterogeneous, biodiverse and unpredictable living environment.
As a result of the dismantling slate industry there is the great opportunity for Alta to rediscover and embrace the sea, experimenting with a new, productive urban vision.
Who influences you graphically?
Each project is unique and brings with it different graphic issue. We can anyway recognize in our work two graphic devices: the map and the collage.
“Make a map not a tracing” Guattari and Deleuze said. The use of the map investigates the ways in which landscape representation not only reflects a given reality but also constitutes a way of seeing. It acts in the complexity, discovering new worlds within past and present and it visualizes the interrelationship and interactions between natural, social and economical process. The theoretical and graphic production by James Corner and Rem Koolhass are for us very important for this aspect. Mapping is not the reproduction of what we see but is the most creative act of the whole design process, because it give us the opportunity to see and re-formulate the reality.
The collage, inspired from the work of Superstudio, Archizoom and Andrea Branzi, till the graphic production of Mansilla Tunon and OFFICE KGDVS, is important for us to reveal the totality of the project. Different objects, times, and subjects are brought together into the same page. The collage is indeed a part of the process: not a framed and final representation, as a render is, but a medium to think and develop our ideas.
What defined the use of the drawing as medium through which you articulate the project?
A drawing is always a representation of an idea.
On one hand the map we used in Altagether is the reproduction and the reinterpretation of the urban structure of Alta. The city has been mapped marking all the mono-functional zones and the vacant spaces in residential areas. In order to dissolve the urban sprawl, flexible devices are spread in the territory, acting as catalyst of the open space, creating new sites for culture, commerce, recreation and urban life. The map, inspired from old stars charts, is the drawing that visualizes this constellation. It represents a celestial coordinate systems of this small urbanism.
On the other hand, the collage, with all the elements of design, is the synthesis. Unlike the map, which requires a reading and its interpretation, the collage directly captures the viewer’s attention and tells the story in a powerful way.
How could the changing landscape and alternation of solids and voids be explored through an animation/video?
The landscape project and generally the natural process have a slower timeline compared to the architectural projects development. The waterfront is designed as an unstable landscape that changes its color, shapes and life continuously during the years. A time-laps video would be the perfect tool to show how a patchwork of small ecosystem is able to re-generate itself. From a dry-scape, made of local stone slabs, the nature starts to colonize again the waterfront: a sequence of natural rooms composes the solids of the ecological pattern, where is possible to observe the slow course of life.
How limiting / liberating was the Europan format?
Europan has always been a competition in which it is allowed to experiment a little more than a normal architectural contest. In this sense, Europan 14 gave us the opportunity to design without major restrictions, but rather, encouraging us to seek innovative and original solutions, and why not, even giving the chance to dare.
We had the liberty of taking as a starting point the arctic urban context, the shape of the city of Alta and how the use of public space is influenced by these climatic conditions.The final result, rather than being a project, is a possible scenario. Our target was to set the “rules of the game” for a post-productive city. The strategy is composed by an abacus of infrastructures that dissolves the urban sprawl triggering new activities. Instead of defining a stable and fixative design of the area, we have given architectural actions to let the urban metabolism itself reorganize the city
Is there anything you would do differently if you were to complete this project on your own terms?
In order to give a more complete vision of the strategy a further step into the design would be fundamental. Think out the small urbanism devices that compose our network would be the first action to do. Deepen how these infrastructure can create new relationship within the existing areas: not only the architectural spaces and its adaptability to the harsh climate but also the development of possible scenarios in the different urban contexts.
What dictated the use of the round frame? What is the effect and purpose of the silhouettes escaping this?
The round shape fluctuates in the board, focusing the attention of the viewer. Escaping from this frame is the visual exception that breaks the rule and symbolically releases the imagination.
What was your work process in terms of project development and construction of images? How much were these part of the process?
The construction of the images for us is a fundamental part of the design process that is never linear. Most of the time is about intuition, creativity, making different options and mistakes: this will lead us finding the right answer. We usually start to collects inspirations: text, video, data, photos etc.. that fill the computer folders as a precious magic hat and we end up building the fil rouge of the project. So we could say that the images are not only a device to control the spatiality but it is also a generative phase of the project.