Sharing Shadows is about bringing life to Mollendal, a growing neighborhood in Central Bergen. The current fabric of the city consists of rich history, academic culture, luscious greenery, striking elevations, and of course, ice cold water that people are not afraid to swim in. Exploring Bergen, we found that strong, established communication exists between the historic center to the north and the neighborhoods to the south, but that there is ripe potential for our site to help create the new Mollendal identity. We can do so by linking the missing stitch at the south end of Store Lungegardsvann, connecting the east and the west, and drawing neighbors from all of Bergen to enjoy the view of the old city across the bay and gather where salt water meets fresh water.
The “new” Mollendal is a place where many opposing forces meet and interact: land and sea, city and nature, life and death. This European project, Sharing Shadows, is inspired by the most unique and physically closest urban knitting pattern: the Mollendal Cemetery. What is a Cemetery? Is it simply a place of sad endings? Here, the cemetery is seen as a place of endings as well as beginnings. Of death, but also of life. A place that reminds us of our ties to history and community, and to a place as well as a time. The cemetery is emblematic of how time affects a community at a different scale than the individual. The project uses the motif of the cemetery to drive the design for a future based on the ephemeral yet all-consuming experience of the individual, and the shared and selfless experience of the community.
More about the cemetery: Monuments in the earth are a marker for the importance of who is underneath. In the living world, the built environment is both a marker and space creator. We take the concept of cemetery monuments to build non-monumental housing- in the spirit of “what’s important is what’s underneath.”
The 32 buildings are based on traditional Norwegian housing typologies, somewhere between the scale of a single family home and a mid-rise block. Each building holds between 2 and 15 modest-sized family dwellings. The repetitive layout is calibrated to maximize sunlight on the site and provide each building with its own invented shadow. Each shadow is an outdoor space that represents a boundary that the neighboring buildings respect physically, allowing the ground level between buildings to breathe, creating a feeling of openness, privacy, and community. Each building’s shadow is intended to function as an alternative yet related program to the program inside the building. The interior first floor of each building holds a variety of non-housing functions, such as retail space and offices, workshops and gathering places inside the building. It also includes the Kindergarten throughout four selected buildings, enclosing a courtyard for the children, but open in four directions to the surrounding site. We propose that the “invented shadow” relate to the program inside in an alternative, but not opposite way: for example, the shadow of retail could be a weekly swap meet and the shadow of the Kindergarten could be evening classes and workshops for continuing education.
The proposal, Sharing Shadows, seeks to find a method to create a spacious community within a constrained site. The Mollendal cemetery is used to remind us of the dialogue between seemingly opposed forms of existence, and the undiscovered inventions that may be hiding in unconventional places.
Dijana Handanovic & Erik Erstad
March 8, 2014