Public Space and People | Online Workshop | open lecture 3/4

We have realy active week on our Online Workshop Public Space and People. We have a lot of new posts on our blog page and the interesting debates are going on. For all who missed open lecture we publish this report with video, presentation and livestream chat content.

Public Space and People III

At this open lecture we hosted a special guest on our livestream chat. Geir, a Hamar Kommune architect, helped us answering a lot of questions about Hamar, Stortorget and its surroundings. The chat was realy lively during this session and we were afraid that it will burn out. And now we are sharing with everyone the most interesting parts of debate.

Welcome to the ‘dreamhamar’ room.

agatka: Hello Geir! Nice to have you here! As I understand Stortorget is a main square in hamar. How function the other public squares in the city? I mean vestre torg or ostre torg? What ‘position’ in the city they have? They are linked on the map, but how is it in reality?

GeirC: Stortorget is special because of it’s size and landscape situation, but östre Torg is the most active one, with outdoor restaurants, and more in the “middle” of the city life today, close to the station and a lot of public offices. Stortorget will be influenced by the new cultural centre, also marking the end of the city centre, and a turn down towards the lake.

agatka: And you know when it was designed – Ostre torg? There are some empty places with a potencial or you think it is well-furnished and answer to needs? And what about the vestre torg? It’s not a continuation? I saw some plans in website of Hamar Kommune but it was in Norwegian so…. I have no idea what about it was 😉 I can not find any square in place of vestre torg via google street view…strange..or sth is built there?

GeirC: östre Torg is not known to be beautiful, and we are not satisfied by it’s details. So it is not a square making the citizens of Hamar proud. Some of the properties around are not very well managed either. But it is still quite lively, and very urban to be here, almost not in touch with landscape. The floor is actually the roof of a parking house. I think it was done in the early nineties. Vestre Torg will also undergo changes, as they are building the parking of the cultural centre underneath. And as you see, it will need some treatment on top…

agatka: there are really a lot of parking places in hamar…and it’s really good that they put them one by one under?

GeirC: Torggata connects the most important places and squares in Hamar. “Torg” means “market square”, and “gata” means “street”.

agatka: We have, in Gdansk, main square near to old town which is a biiig parking… it is not a good label for an old town for a citizen.

GeirC: We had to work REALLY hard to get rid of the cars in Stortorget…

agatka: and today, there are some public spaces in hamar where people like to meet in the open space? or they prefer maybe to pass a time in greener parts?

Francesco: incredible, it is the same point we were discussing this morning with citizens in H-A network discussion! The process as a piece of art itself…

GeirC: People enjoy urban public spaces if they find a seat in the sun, and the possibility to see people, meet friends. Even activities in urban landscape is popular, not only skating, but also cycling (like tricks) and parkour.

agatka: Francesco, and you think that ‘this process itself’ should be maintain in this square later, after the design process? in some way….?

Francesco: Yes, sure. When I say “the process” I mean the process of building a community around Stortorget. If you build a network and a community, It will be easier to keep the square alive. I imagine the design intervention as a platform. Stortorget as a platform. I think dreamhamar is hghlighting the importance on activities in public spaces.

GeirC: I think all public space needs maintenance, not only it’s physical features but also the life itself.

agatka: And you think that a building a community is a process with end or open-process… I mean never ending and changing…?

Francesco: Agree with Geir, the need of maintenance remind us that the space is a living object, evolving through the time.

GeirC: It can be as simple as renting out space for flower sellers, but it could be so much more. It is about creating new patterns of understanding and use of urban space. I think this is much about opening up and to invite. Maybe this needs some organizing. We shouldn’t build communities, but maybe just host them – give them space.

Francesco: Geir, when I said build I meant “connect”

christianhjelle: How to deal with the peoples that don’t participate?

Francesco: I think a community is a group of users connected around a subject or a space.

GeirC: First, people don´t have to participate. But as some of you mention, maybe they will if they are connected around a subject, a common reference.

Francesco: Great vision Geir…

agatka: Maybe they suddenly find some subject to join.

christianhjelle: If a participation process gives a stronger place identity or ownership for the participants, how to deal with this difference in place identity/ownership?

Francesco: It was one of the main challenge: how to provoke people participation.

GeirC: And participation can be active, becoming the subject, or more passive, as the observer. The observer can also be a contributor.

Alejandra: About the “Not in my backyard”, how to mobilize people that are positively affected by the project? And not only those that are against it?

christianhjelle: It is super interesting and important, but challenging.

Francesco: Follow the process / take part into the process.

kobler48: Voluntary is the Norwegian national word 🙂

agatka: Noa told about that yesterday, as they have different levels of activities which could encourage people to participation…

GeirC: The positively affected people should also be challenged, they should not always feel to comfortable. This is not to be nasty, but suddenly what they feel so safe about is turned in the opposite direction because of the other pressure groups.

agatka: I did a research of web cam in public spaces around the Europe and most of them are empty big flat places…

kobler48: You don’t have to go abroad to find working public squares, visit Torgalmenninne, Bergen in spring or summer, mix it with Aker Brygge, Oslo 🙂

GeirC: I will enter to the public space of Hamar together with Belinda, now for the exhibition opening of the work of 1300 pupils working with Dreamhamar.