Ope Hus
by Jeff Pedersen & Idun Losnegård, Myiuki Inoue and UWC Theatre Students and teacher Peter Wilson

Ope Hus explored the meaning and value in distance between people, and the risks and rewards of changing that distance. The performance was held in a private house in Dale, and the audience was invited to walk through the house, finding installed performance pieces in various rooms. Each room focused on a different spatial relationship, between the actors and between the actors and the audience.

In one room, the tension between two actors is expressed through elastic cords which are attached to the actors hands crisscross the room, forming a sort of web of emotional tension. In order to proceed, the audience must maneuver themselves through the cords, causing further reactions from the actors. In this way, we challenged the audience to be an active part of the performance – we created spaces that required the audience to interact spatially with each other and with the actors. Some audience members, in the example of the elastic cords, were very nervous, and careful not to touch the cords, others seemed to get a cruel enjoyment out of affecting the actors, and one baby had a wonderful time playing with the cords and worked himself all the way over to one of the actors in order to touch her hand. Of course, all of these approaches to the cords and the actors are seen by the rest of the audience and compared to their own. Furthermore, will the way that the second member of the audience uses to move through the cords be influenced by that of the first? We did not set out to convince the audience that closeness was good, and being far away was bad, or vice versa. We set out to force them to be aware of their own habits and decisions regarding physical and emotional proximity, and hopefully to analyze them.

Our actors included three professionals – Jeff, Idun Losnegård, and the Japanese performance artist Miyuki Inoue – and ten students and one teacher from the United World College, aged between 17-20. We used a wide variety of skills in Ope Hus, most of which were entirely new to our student actors. In a very short rehearsal period, they learned about neutral mask work, chi sao (the ‘push hands’ of tai chi), the emotional preparation and repetition of Meisner Technique, and many other aspects of acting and physical theatre specifically.

Ope hus Performance


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Ope hus Performance


Time Bank
by Christophe Berdaguer & Marie Péjus

Inspired by the concept of Minutos, the french artist duo CBMP contributed with the Time Bank sculpture to Ideal Lab` Empathic Home. The sculpture project was supported by the english manufacturer of the innovative material Concrete Canvas, a with concrete treated fabric which becomes a hard solid structure after having applied water on it. The sculpture is placed now permanently in the center of Dale – in the center of the community, between the old school house and the old commune house. It is a place were people can meet and exchange.

The idea of setting up a time bank is inspired from a famous time store, founded by Josiah Warren in Cincinatti in 1827. Warren was an inventor and an anarchist. He developed the concept of an experimental “labor for labor store“ based on the principle of exchanging working hours, rather than tasks, making all types of labour equal.

A time bank is a meeting point in a public space where working time can be swapped for money called Minutos. It is a progressive, domestic landscape, based on self development and covered with concrete canvas, a flexible cement-impregnated fabric which hardens in contact with air and water. Like a patchwork, the landscape is woven into an organic frame which may extend indefinitely.

The components of the “empathic space“ landscape come from furniture recovered within the community living in the fjord. This space is a hybrid trading landscape, in terms of its model, architecture, furniture…

Exchanging time is not limited to swapping working hours, it also requires participants to redefine and give meaning to their own perception of time and space. This is one of the reasons that the time bank is built with as system of grafting and aggregating elements as a wide variety of experiences and perceptions are shared within the same landscape.

TimeBank Time Bank sculpture summer-winter


Fjaler Minutos
by Rainer Rosegger

The use of new means of payment needs a revision of our relationship to the topic of money. Increasingly, people are recognizing that conventional money systems are at the root  of recurring economic and social problems.

Today, with a worldwide financial market, these problems occur on a global scale. They have lead to an understanding that fundamentally new solutions would be needed. A whole host of different models have been developed.

One of the most successful concepts in Europe, so far, has been the introduction of regional currencies called ‘Regios’, which function parallel to the Euro, installed to support the regional economy and enhance the creation of social networks. One of the main reasons for stagnation in the present regional currencies is the administration effort: The unpaid organizers, who took on the responsibility to make the system work, get burned out and therefore discontinue their work.

A new model do not need any administration effort: The concept ‘Minuto Cash’, called Minuto, is based on the possibility that everybody can issue his or her own means of payment. Minutos, which are used similarly to cash are a truly decentralized means of payment. Usually people work and get paid for it after that. The name Minutos is based on the minutes of high quality work that are being used as units of payment for the exchange of goods and services.

The Fjaler Minutos is totally inflation free, as an hour is an  hour today, tomorrow and in a hundred years from now, the prices for goods and services in Fjaler Minutos will not have to be adjusted, for instance, if the conventional currency should go into hyperinflation. Fjaler Minutos (as the more stable means of payment) would be the equivalent of a higher amount of Euros.

When introducing Fjaler Minuto, a group of people meet. The responsibility can be shared and taken over by any. citizem Resources and needs are discussed publicly in Fjaler Minuto meetings. Every Minuto voucher shows the name and address of the person who issued it, its value, date of issue, the abbreviation of the state, the postal code of the issuer – and its period of validity.

Exchanging time at Timebank Exchanging time at Timebank


Welcome Stranger
by Ralston & Bau together with Linda Hovland

The most empathic act to perform in a home is to welcome strangers to stay. A visitor sleeping in a strangers home and the host letting its spare room are challenging the proxemic zones normally respected between people that have never met before.

The Ideal Lab’ scenarios are defined by the local community where the theme is implemented. In Dale and Flekke, two villages in the municipality of Fjaler, there are a lack of hospitality facilities. While habitants in Fjaler are known to pitching in and host visitors privately when big events are being organised locally, there were no organised hosting network available to uninitiated stranger passing by.

In Empathic Home theme, Ralston & Bau researched the needs and desires for organising the empty beds in the villages so they could be available and known to anyone visiting the area. Locals known to have empty rooms and being open to receive were personally invited to start up a local B&B network. In the meetings that followed, several issues relevant to hosting were discussed. The fact to get paid for something most normally did as a courtesy to a friend or neighbour, made many uncomfortable. To always have to be available and say yes to anyone asking, was another factor that frightened potential network hosts. Even if receiving visitors as a favour, it was clear that if a network was going to work, the hosts had to get paid for preparing and cleaning the rooms.

The social network Airbnb has become world widely used as a platform to make private hosting available professionally. It handles all the practical issues of planning and payment for for a small fee. Airbnb was chosen as a tool for communicating and renting the local hosting possibilities. In that way, anyone not initiated to the local networks would find the home listed in the area.

Two of the host families in Fjaler were chosen to get extra follow up in making their spaces available to receiving visitors: Berit and Hallvard Senneset and Tove and Jan Ulltang. Ralston & Bau advised them how to optimise their interior rooms and give them identity. Before the summer 2013 both families were up and running. After one year being operational, they had received many spontaneous visitors from different nationalities.

The Senneset family are today making their B&B activity professionally in a family house they are renovating and the Ulltangs have extended their hosting to letting, not only their basement flat, but also their whole house. When letting their house they enjoy the adventure of living themselves in a Camping car. These families have become local ambassadors and examples, a modest start to a more sustainable local hosting network.

Welcome Stranger

B&B_meeting5 Welcome stranger at Berit and Hallvard



Empathic Seating
by Christian Lodegaard from Scandinavian Business Seating and Ralston & Bau

Scandinavian Business Seating is a Nordic furniture maker whose vision is to; make the world a better place to sit. Through this vision the company focuses on making a sustainable difference and products that offer the best working sitting positions. To make a difference SBSeating wishes to contribute to the shaping of the workplace of the future.

One workplace is and will be the home and other ad hoc spaces. The word “office” feels like an outdated word. What are the needs of a working person in informal work situations and how can the spaces quickly adapt to those needs. What is an empathic work environment?

Three user concepts were explored in a workshop with the sociolog Rainer Rosenegger, to create a foundation for further development:

1/ Identity building: the workplace becomes part of the workers identity. Flexible solutions gives the user the freedom to take control over its own space.
2/ Co-working: the co-working space is the third space, a place away from home and away from the office, where to meet for an informal exchange. It can be in a hotel, someones kitchen, a museum or a common atelier where a minimum of services can be found.
3/ Homework: in the home sphere the connection/de connexion between private and work is a major issue. Physical objects needed for a good work process at home should be multitasking, easily transformed from one mind set and usage to another.

Ralston & Bau placed these concepts in the perspective of the Empathic Village and Empathic Home context, to develop scenarios of how an office furniture producer could make a difference with its actions. The developed scenarios (see illustration to the right) were:
Social shift / Caring
Sustainable awareness / Less
Proxemic shift / Instant

SBSeating is taking the findings into a long term process where the company can develop concrete actions in the sense of being the good guy and cater to the proxemic shift in our society.

SBSeating-keywords SBSeating-empathic-home


by Cecilie Haaland together with Ralston & Bau

The trace of the hand, tangible in handicrafts, signs of the relation between the material and the gesture. The time someone spend making an object by hand has in it self a built in empathic quality that can be lost in the industrialised production of objects.

Cecilie Haaland, a ceramic artist and receiver of the norwegian national artist work fund, was the invited Agent to design, in collaboration with Ralston & Bau, a series of objects intended for the empathic home.

Cecilie was interested in challenging the dividing line between art, artisan and designed objects. Her artisan pottery expertise with porcelain know-how and Ralston & Bau industrial design approach to shaping objects met in the collaboration.

In the first co-creative week session the research from Empathic Home and findings from the encounters and work to create the local B&B network was shared. The Agents identified a meaningful track to develop further a line of domestic objects materialising empathic qualities and values. Specific zones within the “home” were selected as points in need of helpful tools to guide visitors and make them feel welcomed. It was decided to keep focus on the entrance and bathroom areas.

In the second week the Agents created a series of objects in the concept of “Pathics”. Several porcelain objects where sketched and shaped in 3D principle models in paper and clay.

The materialised empathic object Pathic concept is resumed within this definition: “The Pathic is an empathic being surrounding us with one purpose: make our life easier. It is simple-minded, handle one task at a time and come to you when you need it, attracted by your needs. It is the Pathic”.

Pathics process Pathics process Pathics prototype Pathics prototype