A street battle is over. Hard infrastructure turned soft – from central parking to central park.
Sandwiched between two contexts of the (car based) oil host city of Sandnes, Ruten park is framed by the elevated train tracks and a large shopping mall. The former parking lot provided a central and generous open space protected only by its capacity of cars. RUTEN has remained a buffer in the urban development in anticipation of something bigger - as the Central Park in New York was built before the Manhattan grid was condensed around it.
A paradigm shift since the competition win in 2012, removing all car parking and cross traffic - has been heavily pushed through by a 9-year process of locally implemented research, diplomacy, and activism by the architects.
Sandnes’ historic center remains a small-scaled urban fabric. The new district by the waterfront has a distinctly different dimension - scaled up to the old post-industrial structures on site.
By overlapping the two adjacent contexts, the new RUTEN is adapted to both. Referencing the adjacent historic city, a 6x6meter grid of trees, columns and lampposts is extended onto the site. The Ring reflects the large scale of the fast-growing city on the waterfront. Together, these layers reestablish RUTEN as a natural center and pivoting point of Sandnes´ future looking city with strong roots and a proud local history. As an iconic landmark, The RING provides new identity and new connections, creating a new public space below and within the light unifying roof. As an urban umbrella the floating, undulating structure 5-6 meters above the ground celebrates all weather conditions and invites for expanded use on the local average of 228 annual rainy days.
The lighting plan is integrated in the 60 steelcolumns of the Ring, enhancing its lightness, (110 LED bulbs of 1000 lumen) with up lights and dedicated downlights defining zones for specific usage, as the playground, stage, waterfall, and the skating park.
Our strategy has been to combine;
• A large urban park - For coming population growth and for the big occasions.
• A grid of possibilities - a smaller subdivision of dedicated spaces with intimacy and diversity of activities.
The urban park balances all occasions; Intimate _ Open, Specific_ Flexible, Small scale, large scale. It allows for the representative and planned, as well as encourages the spontaneous, informal and unexpected.
What was the brief?
A competition to transform an infrastructural space to public space. And while the brief required that we combine the two, we reorganized the traffic in the city and created a space exclusively for people.
What were the key challenges?
The challenge was to change the mindset about parking, to get people behind ‘soft’ assets, to engage the real users and give them a voice.
What materials did you choose and why?
Stones for the paving (durability), wood sub-structure (lightness), stainless steel (flexibility and maintenance), pink concrete (beauty), nature(for making people happy), wood benches (for not freezing your bum), core-ten steel (color and patina), and people (for their unpredictability, social courageousness, and skateability).