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The Nansen Park, Oslo

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An old cultivated landscape with much variation and beauty was levelled into Oslo’s international airport in the 1940 - 60’s. In 1998, the airport was moved and left behind it a peninsula of almost 1000 acres in need of transformation.

The moving of the Oslo International Airport at Fornebu resulted in the largest industrial reclamation project in the country. The new park was to form a functional focus and an identifying centrepiece of a new community some 10 kilometres from downtown Oslo. Plots for housing and offices were sold off to private developers, while the Norwegian Directorate of Public Construction and Property together with the City of Oslo undertook responsibility for infrastructure and landscape; the treatment of polluted grounds, and the planning of a new park structure.
In 2004, an architectural competition was won by landscape architects Bjørbekk & Lindheim.

The park
The central Nansen Park (approx. 200.000 m2), has been designed to serve as an attractive and active meeting place for all those who will be living at Fornebu. A strong identity, simplicity and timelessness have been
key points. In order to respond to its dramatic history, the park has been designed as a dynamic dialogue between the uncompromising linearity of the airport and the softer, more organic forms of the original landscape. The site borders the Oslo Fjord on three sides. The openness of the landscape, as well as the distant contours of the hills gives a strong and peaceful feel of the sky, a separateness and spaciousness which we have tried to instil in the new landscape. The quiet calm of the extensive views and the harmonious forms have carefully been combined with activities.

The former terminal building and control tower is the starting point for the water feature that stretches north-south through the park. The design of the waterway reflects the playful variations between straight and organic, still reflecting pool surfaces, streaming or falling water. A narrow water channel runs through rippling coloured glass within a frame of corten steel before running down an in-situ concrete water channel with corten steel edges and bridges. The water is led into a larger basin with a precise, hard side and a softer, organic side with thresholds and rapids before it empties into the large Central Lake of 6000 m2. Biological sand filters, mechanical filters and pumps clean and airs the water sufficiently to ensure good water quality.

The strip
The Festival Plaza and the Strip have been located to the northwest of the Central Pool, with a clear reference to the former runway and materials reflecting its earlier characteristic geology. Next to the water feature are an area of in situ polished concrete with green runway strip lighting, a wide platform in Wisorwood, a narrow strip of riverbed pebbles, wide steps in granite leading down to the lake and encourage contact with the water.

Festival Plaza
The plaza, a multipurpose floor, of large cut paving of granite, measuring up to 2,4x1,6 m. This area has been given an artistic treatment, with large slabs of stone, and water nozzles which at intervals let water run over the sloping plane. Moveable steel elements invite children to manipulate the water streams.
A large amphitheatre endorses different kinds of performances, as well as being a quiet seating area. Opposite the pool are remnants of original and characteristic small hills from cambrium silur time. The terrain waves back and forth in gentle curves, contrasting with the straight lines of the Strip. Overall, the original vegetation of the area has been retained and restored,
The seven green “arms”, widths varying from 30 to 100 meters, enable people to move easily throughout Fornebu. The “arms” will consist of: places for volleyball, play-areas made with rubber surfaces, large climbing nets, elements in wood for sitting/running/rolling and small reminiscences of an earlier airport regime.

Environmental profile
A strong ecological profile forms the foundation of the whole transformational process. Polluted grounds have been cleaned, asphalt and concrete have been retrieved and reused, new soil for cultivation was made from masses from the site. Large volumes of earth and rock within the Fornebu area have been used to transform the flat airport area into a landscape with different spatial qualities and heights to create views towards the fjord. Engineering firm Norconsult and the German firm, Atelier Dreiseitl was consulted during the planning phase.

After 10 years of industrial reclamation, a new environment has been created, with visual references to its landscape history, and in visual dialogue with the more recent linearity of the airport runways. In 2008, the park was named after Fridtjof Nansen, polar explorer, scientist, humanitarian, diplomat and Nobel laureate, who lived in the area. In conclusion, the Nansen Park, eagerly awaits 6000 new housing units and work spaces for 15000 people so that it can truly come aliv
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