Anne Beate Hovind, Project Manager and Commissioner for Public Arts at Bjørvika Utvikling, realised by the artist Amy Francescini of Future Farmers (US).
Not calling herself a placemaker, Anne Beate Hovind has beeninvolved in a range of renowned placemaking projects in Oslo overthe last three decades, including M/S Innvik, Future Library and the Flatbread Society/ Losæter. As the Bjørvika area has evolved from anindustrial harbor into a lucrative residential area, Anne Beate has worked for the area’s property development company Bjørvika Utvikling as a curator and project manager to challenge invited international artists to develop compelling projects that could evolve Losæter, commissioning a green spaceto an urban farming artist collective with the area. Amy Francesciniof Future Farmers (US) was the chosen artist for a selected, future greenspace, based on her Victory Gardens in California.In the project’s beginnings, thearea was a construction site piled with rocks and gravel,nowhere people would like tolinger, or even find! However,since then the space has gonethrough many phases and seenmany artistic interventions andinnovative collaborationshappen, including a bakehouse,an heirloom grain field and alarge allotment garden.
The key has been flexibility so that if or when the interests of the users of this public space changes, so can the space too.
“Being dynamic, allowing change, is what makes a plan robust. We can’t be too strict about things”, Anne Beate emphasises. Part of the project’s success comes from her unique skills in negotiating innovative partnerships, for example persuading the Farmers’ Union to fund an urban farmer to tend to a public arts project in Bjørvika. Today, the place has become a favourite hotspot for tourists seeking authentic experiences alongside locals wanting to explore greener urban lifestyles.
The space in question was already regulated as a park in the masterplan, the focus therefore has been on developing the programming that would allow people to build a relationship to the transformative area – even before it would become inhabited
Even though Oslo has always been a harbour city, for the last 150 years the citizens were blocked off from the seafront by the industrial harbour. As the city has gradually regained access to the area, through re-regulation of Bjørvika into a lucrative residential, recreational and commercial district, the developers have struggled to create a place identity that connects the historic importance of the area to its future users.One of the areas where this new identity is imagined and executed, is in some of the public spaces. Losæter was originally regulated as a conventional, grass covered, park, but through the work of creative artists and innovative partnerships, it has evolved into a unique urban farm and public space.
Commissioning a selected group of artists (Future Farmers) to develop a long term public space project designed to be exploratory. Utilising the role as the project manager to broker deals with innovative partners such as the Farmers’ Union, Norgesgruppen (a chain of supermarkets), heirloom grain farmers, environmental organisations and the municipality. Framing the development of high quality public spaces as works of public art allows for a close and long-term, fully funded, project cooperation between the artist and the curator. The artists that have been involved in Losæter have engaged the community through a range of media and activities, including recording and hosting radio shows with interviews with local community members, building a travelling pop-up tandoori oven to visit different ethnic neighbourhoods of the adjacent area of Grønland, and holding a soil procession where soil samples were brought in from organic farmers from the entire region to lay the soil foundation of the current corn field in Losæter.
A part of the conversion of Bjørvika from post-industrial shipyards to a glossy fiord city, the need for developing new public spaces also arise. Where this task is most often given to landscape architects, the developers dared to challenge artists to develop a green space with a twist.
Where public art works usually are interpreted as artistic decorations of a space, for example as sculptures, placemaking and community building are powerful tools for engaging people in the spaces they use, engage with or take pride in.
Time period:2011 – ongoing
Coordinator: Anne Beate Hovind / Bjørvika Utvikling
Financing: Bjørvika Utvikling as a public arts project.Now the management of the space is fully funded by the Municipality of Oslo, including a full-time position for an urban farmer.
Did you like the story? Check out our booklet "Exploring Placemaking in Context".
Clara J. Reich, Helene Gallis
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