NODA navn

Inclusive Arctic Urban Spaces

A project aiming to build a meeting place between buildings in Northern Norway. Responding to the harsh climate and following the needs of the locals.

We have created a 4 phase process that we repeat and improve every year. Each year resulting in a new built urban structure.

2021 – Tromsø. 2022 – Hansnes. 2023 – Vadsø. 2024 – Bodø ?

Public participation plays a central role. After establishing partnership with a local council and finding a site, locals are invited to workshops. We don’t know what we will build from the onset. A point we make clear when meeting participation groups.

This is a two-way knowledge sharing. We learn a lot about the place we are going to place a new structure into. Here we try to find the needs in the local community while gaining insight into this community. Where do people meet today? What type of meeting place would be used? An active space or a calm space for talking?

We meet people who are not often involved in place-development. Kids. Elderly. People from different background – perhaps lacking Norwegian skills. Our aim is to create a workshop that lets people participate from their standing, using principles from service design.

The input from the public participation is gathered and illustrated. To ensure the implementation of this input in the following process. The illustrations are shared with the public participants to check that we have understood their input correctly. They also form the basis of the architectural workshop.

It is impossible to answer all the needs found, meaning the architects need to filter through the input to find a core need. This will guide the design process. Architects in NODAs network are invited to participate in a design-workshop. A group of 5-6 architects, landscape architects and interior architects gather. They visit the site. Then form smaller groups working together with partners who are not their colleagues.

Architectural knowledge, specific to the arctic context is experienced based. On top of having to follow national regulations, like universal access, architecture in the north needs to respond to constant darkness (polar night), constant daylight (midnightsun) and vast amounts of snow. Only architects who actively work in these conditions truly understand them.

By working across-offices this experienced based knowledge will be shared between pracitioners in the North. Solving a common design flags scenarios that needs to be worked through. Experience from similar scenarios from one architect’s experience can form a new solution.

The workshop is short and intense. 100% analogue – sketching by hand and making physical models. Each group of architects create one proposal.

These are presented to a local jury. Who judge based on the design proposals response to the illustrations and known local conditions. The jury consists of representatives from the local council, elderly, youth, builders or others who have been involved in the public participation. An architect is also a member of this jury to ensure the architectural quality in the proposal.

The chosen design proposal gets commissioned to develop this further. The team of architects working across companies get to realize their proposal through a paid commission.

Once the design is developed and approved by the council it gets built!

At the end of the year, everyone is invited to celebrate the new Inclusive Arctic Urban Space. At this moment we can experience how this new structure is welcomed and used – indicating the success of the project.

All in the space of one year the project goes from idea to completion. Then we repeat and improve the process the following year.
Public participation is encouraged through the participants experiences real results within a short space of time.
Locals gain an urban space that they feel a stronger sense of care and ownership to through their participation. People see how they can actively form their environment. Seeing the space form encourages further development run by the locals themselves “we can build a small shelter in that corner.” “We can raise funds to buy a firepit to be placed next to that bench.”

The place is used thanks to this.

This is experienced as a positive enhancement to the local community.


Arktis 2030 - Troms og Finnmark Fylkeskommune
Local council: 2021 - Tromsø Kommune. 2022 – Karlsøy Kommune. 2023 – Vadsø Kommune.