Ås is more Norway

Housing Ås Norway

  • Ås is on the verge of a huge task. In the coming years to 2040 is forecast that the population will double. Doubling the population could endanger the qualities and characteristics of the village or even completely abolish them. On the other hand, when the development will be managed responsibly and supported by a clear vision; in planning, urbanism and architecture, the possibilities are there to strengthen the positive characteristics of Ås and tackle the existing shortcomings structurally. This will allow the village to position itself clearly, which will not only benefit the new inhabitants of Ås but will mean a great improvement for the entire village.

    Our main starting point in this project is to maintain and strengthen the cohesion between the village and the university, and between current and future residents. Our view is that the solution should not only be sought in building houses to accommodate growth, but specifically the public space –where people can meet- is an important task in this competition. To meet future growth, it is essential that the center of the village will be better defined and that both spatial and programmatic a well articulated public area will be realized here.

    Strengthen the existing qualities Ås nowadays is a friendly and quiet village where all the basic amenities are available. There is a lot of (undefined) public space, nature and -for a small village- a reasonable range of cultural facilities. The village is held together through the green fingers of the surrounding agricultural landscape which penetrates deep into the village. At the borders; traditional, wooden, single-family houses are set in a charming rural configuration. On the outskirts of the village the Norwegian University of Life Sciences is accommodated in a beautiful landscape setting. Shortcomings Like every town or village Ås also has some deficits. The expected growth, and financial possibilities that come along with it, should be used to tackle these bottlenecks and make sustainable growth possible.
    • The railway is a significant barrier through the village; it is physically divided into two parts.
    • The university is hardly present in the village and there is little interaction between the university (and its inhabitants) and the villagers of Ås.
    • There is no clearly articulated central area where people can meet and share time together.
    • The already started bigger scale development in the center of Ås does not relate to the surrounding buildings and weakens the regional identity of Ås.
    • The infrastructure of Ås is very focused on automobile traffic and not very appealing to cyclist and pedestrians.
    • Public area in Ås is set up rather monotonous and not very clear, causing many residual space remains unused.
    Interventions To give Ås at regional level a face, it is important that it stands out from the surrounding villages and manifests as its own unique entity and not as a suburb of –rapidly expanding- Oslo. The main characteristics that distinguish Ås are the rural, agricultural character and the presence of a leading, ambitious University in the field of Life Science.

    When these characteristics are emphasized in the right way, they can reinforce each other and thus make the identity of Ås more visible and manifest. When configured in a right, careful way Ås could establish itself as a (recreational) area which combines the liveliness of a small university town with the rustic qualities of its surroundings. Our urban strategy is clearly two-fold. On the one hand new (small) building sites, which can easily be adopted by their surroundings, will be created on unused space through the village and the development areas as mentioned in the hand-out. On the other hand two urban interventions are planned to make sure the extension of Ås will not be at the expense of spatial and social coherence.

    These interventions include a parkzone and a public square on the site area. The parkzone will connect university campus, the revitalized center of Ås and the part of the village on the other side of the railroad track. In this way there will be an articulated spatial area throughout the entire village and a structural and visible connection is being made with the beautiful university campus inspired by Olmsted. The public square will function as a central meeting and connecting area in the heart of Ås. Social, commercial and recreational activities will take place to perpetuate the mutual relation between citizans, students en visitors.

    Architecture - as a means to connect and compacting The buildings that we propose can take many different forms. From small detached houses to dense clusters where shops, workplaces and apartments are included. In terms of design and materializations they remain always in close relationship with the small-scale character of Ås. Because the dwellings can be developed both stand-alone as in (big or small) clusters, growth can also take place in stages.

    The modest and archetypal design refers to traditional Norwegian homes without being historicizing. The floor plans and facades are designed in a way that they basically can adopt every type of housing. Within the same blueprint in which shafts and openings are fixed, various typologies are possible. Without major structural changes various forms of living and working can be adapted. From single family-houses to student dwellings and from elderly housing to studio’s. Every house is provided with a private balcony or terrace. When houses are clustered they also have a shared outdoor space with direct neighbors on the first floor. In this case ground level is for parking and remains public. By not providing private gardens on the ground floor it is possible to make very compact, but still spacious set-ups.

    For the current commercial and office building on the site we chose to remove the existing façade and add some new functions that facilitate our vision on the site. The construction has remained intact. On the ground floor we planned commercial functions as a grocery, café / restaurant and small business units. It is provided with a very articulated arched façade to emphasize the building at the square market and give it a strong public character.

    On the top floor the new ‘Odd Tandberg museum’ will get its prominent location. Visible from far and with a great view over Ås and its surroundings from the terrace (annex sculpture garden). The translucent façade will provide the exposed art the best soft-box condition during daytime. In the evening the museum will work as an lantern; a beacon of light in the new center of Ås.

    As a starter for further development we chose to program a (market)square in addition to housing on the site. A public space that is available to the residents of Ås and can accommodate different kind of activities such as a weekly market, public events, etc.

  • location
    Ås, Norway
    Ås municipality | Odd Tandberg, Anne Lene Skott erud, Ørjan Eriksen
    Paul van der Vlis - project architect
    Maarten Meester - project architect