Research from Oslo on sustainable placemaking models shows that a service model can be valuable for creating long-lasting projects and ensuring personal and material resources for ongoing place transformations. Are you interested in further examples and models from Oslo? Check out the free publication on it.
Profit, as well as non-profit organisations are getting paid by the public sector in Oslo to realise placemaking processes ranging from research to the implementation and evaluation phase. These organisations provide placemaking as a service as they often have a strong focus on the environment and the community’s needs. The actors often have a self-reflective and critical view on their work and aim for diverse, inclusive and pollinator-friendly public places. Focussing on people, planet and profit (the triple bottom line) is an important element of these businesses. Several placemaking processes started as self-funded or partially self-funded and/or as part of research or grassroots projects. The gained insights on best-practices, local particularities in terms of geography, socio-economic aspects and policy, obstacles, and gathering solutions contributed to building up expert knowledge for these local stakeholders.
Olafiagangen is a public square that lies between the bus terminal, under a bridge, and next to a river in central Oslo. The area is frequented by drug users, poor travelers, and homeless people and has been stigmatised in the news due to criminal activities (Ander 2017). Many people in the neighbourhood perceived the space as dark, scary, and dirty and avoided it whenever possible. The area development programme under the city sought to apply participatory workshops and employed a firm to realise these with the local children and youth (Vik and Thun 2019). Based on the findings, the area development programme in the Gamle Oslo District employed LÉVA Urban Design, GrowLab, and Makers’ Hub to improve Olafiagangen by creating a placescape consisting of garden boxes, colours, plants, and benches. Oslo Living Lab was employed to support the endeavour with planting flowers and city trees. Youth from the district were employed to support the transformation process by building, painting, and planting alongside volunteers. These companies provided placemaking as a service to improve the local neighborhood and transformed a dark and scary place into a vibrant, green, colourful, and liveable public space. The area development programme has planned further activities to improve the public space which will be interesting to explore in the future.
The competence, experience and knowledge supported several of these organisations to build up a service oriented business model. The main customer at the moment is the public sector, which is due to either a lack of human resources, or a lack of experience outsourcing the entire series of steps in placemaking processes. Potentially, facilitating community involvement processes could be services that investors, urban developers, and research institutes may be interested in purchasing.
Vaterlandsparken is located close to the city centre and main station and was perceived as an unsafe area with drug users and homeless people. There was a need to invite more groups into the park by creating a variety of activities. The project aimed to involve new user groups and to create a safe place that was more aesthetically pleasing in order to provide a unique and attractive experience in the urban space.
The plan was to create a project that could be recreated in different areas of the city and upscaled. Through chess games, urban agriculture, and collaborations with a variety of people and the local community, the placemaking efforts lead to a safer, more vibrant, more lively and greener public place. The project was so popular that the municipality recreated it in the following years (Gallis and Brathseth 2015).
Ander, H.E.2017. "Et ubehagelig mangfold. En studie av mangfold oginkludering som mål for Olafiagangensom offentlig rom på Grønland." Master i samfunnsgeografi Institutt for sosiologiog samfunnsgeografi University of Oslo.
Gallis, H.; Brathseth, K.. 2015. "Fra «Oslos farligste sted» til frodig urban oase, –prosjektrapport fra Sjakkplassen." Online available:https://issuu.com/helenegallis/docs/erfaringer_fra_sjakkplassen_2015.
Vik, R., and Thun, M. 2019. Konseptmedvirkning Olafiagangen. Involvering avnabolag, barn, ungdom og næringsliv på Grønland i arbeidet medkonseptvalgutrednign. edited by Barnas Boligbyggere. Oslo.
Clara J. Reich