Runner up in Europan 16

On the site of Hjertelia in Hønefoss, on a sloping hill surrounded by nature and farmlands, the team proposed a model of housing for a new neighbourhood that embraces the dramatic topography as a quality with a series of terraced houses nestling down the steep hill.

Jury comment: The proposal has a clear and strong concept and is an interesting answer to the main question in the competition – to develop a new pilot neighbourhood on urban farming and social forms of living.

The design of the new building’s at Hjertelia puts nature first. The site is defined by rolling hills of mixed farming uses, cut across by a steep-sided ravine and creek of water. These block type houses are highly effective at densifying around steep terrain, and afford residents nice views over landscape, outdoor living spaces and a contact to nature.

The presence of a Middle Eastern community garden on site is both a cultural and environmental asset on the site. One which we not only want to retain, but promote. We therefore propose a walled garden in the heart of the new neighbourhood, allowing for the Kurdish to stay, as well as to create a social core for new residents - A meeting place in an ambient climate that can be used for social gatherings throughout the year.

This courtyard element is also carried over into the housing blocks. By incorporating a sunken courtyard into the otherwise deep plan of the terrace house, we create better living conditions of natural air and light within. This also affords each home a micro climate of its own, where fresh produce and herbs may be grown.

We propose a site layout that moves the line of housing and its associated roadways to the perimeter of the site. Using a module of terrace housing that works with the terrain level change, we create a kind of perimeter wall of reused brick around the edge of the site. This perimeter allows for the retention of farmland where it is today, but enhances its growing conditions by using the mass of the housing walls to exclude harsh winds and raise the ambient temperature within. This can extend the growing season of the fields and also allows for a greater generosity of outdoor space to be shared amongst residents, ideal for children’s play, outdoor eating and activity.

The palette of material is carefully selected to provide a balance of good sustainability, growing conditions and sensitive to local context. Plinths of the housing blocks are made from recycled local red clay bricks, sourced from disused factory structures in the Hønefoss valley. This material is low in carbon footprint, but also ideal for creating courtyard gardens and terraces for growing. The materials ability to retain solar gains with its thermal mass creates a more regular micro climate. Finally above ground structures are constructed from locally sourced pine and ash timber members.

Visualisation by Filippo Bolognese.

Runner up in Europan 16