The Ideal Lab is a program that relocates the meaning of design to a social environment in mutation. In collaboration with research, arts, science, sociology, and industry, the Ideal Lab’s goal is to de ne upcoming needs, provide human results and realise future scenarios through tangible products and processes. By themed cycles, selected Agents are invited to exchange visions, thoughts and co- produce meaningful results. Between 2010 and 2016, ve themes were developed in collaboration with 51 creative Agents. The results of the program have received international recognition with four design awards and presentations at 21 biennale, triennale, exhibitions, festivals and conferences.
As cities become more diverse, the challenge to shape public spaces that are alive, accessible to all and carries an unique local identity, is increasingly more complex. After belonging elsewhere, inhabitants need to nd new sense of community. The research through design program Ideal Lab takes on the theme identity, in the particular context of Tøyen in Oslo.
Scenario Act of Self Expression
Belonging is a feeling based on the collective identity, shared rituals and a collective imagination. The common identity shows what people really share, the rituals which make everyone feel physically and emotionally connected. The collective imagination is lled with events, artistic expressions, and traditions which have touched everyone. Ideal Lab’s Agents met people with a strong sense of pride to belong to Tøyen. While locals agreed that this is a good place to live, they pointed out the problems of the historically neglected and recent gentri cation of the neighbourhood. Tøyen has an undeserved bad reputation as change have accelerated, but the fearful mindsets of the people who do not live there persists in the media. In the “Tøyen Revisited” project the locals are invited to share their individual narratives of their community through recordable postcards. The postcards feature different sites and perceptions of Tøyen, accompanied by short historical narratives or factual information about the specific site or theme pictured in the card. In the “Elevation Station” the intention is to give people a basic tool for interaction and a way to sell or share for example goods, foods or even left overs. The project was designed as a vertical connection. A link between makers and doers, living and working in domestic housing and the local people and by passers on the ground.
Scenario Stories Retraced
Integration is a process in which one maintains individuality while adapting to stay relevant and alive. In the case of migration or gentifrication, it is to make space for the new without losing the familiar, both for the welcoming society as well as for the migrant. For cities, it means becoming more attractive while staying unique. Adaptation is a dialectic movement between transformation and conservation. Tøyen has a long worker class history. The domination of brick apartment buildings and the many factory chimneys are in themselves a symbol and trace of the industrial past of East Oslo. The sophisticated Botanical Garden is in a way turning it’s back on the neighbourhood as its closed forged iron fence meet the pedestrians from Tøyen.
Everything change and adapt. This also applies to Tøyen. Newer development has cut many of the historical lines, isolating the neighbourhood from the rest of the city, although some streets has been there from the origin. It is there Tøyens identity lies, in those connections that ties Tøyen to the rest of Oslo. One of these main arteries is Hagegata. In “A Piece of Tøyen” we see how the street can be developed based on local historical traditions. In “Pipene på Tøyen” the chimeneys lift up structures making them into local landmarks. A landmark that would
be visible from other parts of the city and bring attention to the vibrant local community. The project is focused around six selected chimneys placed centrally in the neighbourhood.
Scenario Common Ground
Identity (having something identical) can only be created through the act of sharing. That said, sharing is not always easy when natives already have their habits and social networks, while the newcomers do not know all the rules. Successful sharing is preceded by a personal selection of what is really important, like a chef selecting ingredients or a DJ selecting songs. Sharing becomes a way to progress and improve when it goes both ways. Each person thinks about what is important to them, shares it, and enjoys the experience and the selections of others. In Tøyen, sharing seems to be natural and most people seem eager to contribute. The preparation of conducive conditions for sharing is what inspired us. The Tøyen public parks and squares are important in an neighbourhood where most inhabitants lives in apartment buildings. Due to the Nordic weather conditions, outdoor activities are hazardous to plan and spaces can feel unsafe outside the light summer months.
The three high rises on Tøyen Torg, with their oating roofs on the top, provides an iconic backdrop of any view of Tøyen. Their rough shape inspired the “Tøyen Roofs” that down at street level create shared and permanent outdoor spaces that enable social activities and give sunlight on an overcast day. The project aim to reclaim the public space and make it usable for common activities at any time.