“A new centre unfolds on a peninsula”

In early 2015, karres+brands won together with Ghilardi+Hellsten a parallel assignment for the urban development of Fosnavåg, Norway. Fosnavåg is the new administrative centre of the Herøy municipality and one of the main fishing villages on the Norwegian coast.

Vision: creating identity

The fishing industry has always been very strong in Fosnavåg and the city has informally evolved around the harbor. Today shipping also plays an important role in Fosnavåg in relationship with technical innovation and international businesses. As part of the ongoing efforts to upgrade the commercial harbor, city authorities are planning to dredge the sea bottom. The brief in the parallel commission asked for options on the relocation of the soil from the dredging.

The vision set out by the team prioritizes the densification of the city center, rather than sprawling further out to the city’s edges. In a clearly positioned framework, the center is expanded on the opposite peninsula Vågsholmen, where the new city center takes shape around an intimate inner harbour. The most characteristic, identity-filled area in Fosnavåg.

In order to open the inner harbor for larger ships and create new construction opportunities for large ferries, a new water channel is proposed. This strategy disconnects Vågsholmen from the northern ridge and orients the island towards the city centre. Rerouting large ships also allows for new pedestrian bridges across the inner channel, making the city center much less dependent on vehicular traffic. The new opening to the sea guarantees long-term developments and further potential for urban growth.

Our proposal defines new transformation areas close to the city center with cultivated landscapes, sustainable housing and direct pedestrian / bicycle connections into the town center. Vågsplassen is transformed from parking lot to public space surrounded by new plots for buildings. The area is proposed as the new business district in Fosnavåg. The industry extends from supply business for wind farms in the sea to technology for sustainable fisheries. Areas close to existing city centre are developed into new residential areas with sustainable housing and new typologies and existing fisheries are transformed into housing.

Urban space strategy: step by step

One of the key elements of the vision is the reactivation and rediscovery of public space as a platform for social interaction. We pinpointed strategic locations for new public spaces. These are either upgraded existing spaces or newly transformed city spaces. Planned with microclimate and program concentration in mind these public spaces become prime gravitational points in Fosnavåg with the newly proposed main square, as key focus. One of these strategical public spaces, currently a parking lot, will be transformed into a buzzing square, capitalizing on the high concentration of program surrounding the parking. Programmatically loaded and strategically located, this new urban space becomes the main pedestrian destination and meeting point for people of all ages.

Temporary square: a living laboratory

A first step is setting the agenda for the future was the transformation of the square. As part of a public consultation and participation process the existing parking lot was temporarily transformed into a public space in 2016. In doing so the project team tested the wishes of the inhabitants and revealed the potential for public space in that strategic spot in the city, a living urban laboratory. Together with inhabitants and children from the local school we worked to build the public space as well as gather ideas and sketches for what the space can be in the future. Using materials recycled from the local fishing industry we have introduced greener and more comfortable space for gathering and play. The currently car dominated space was replaced by a colorful mix of patterns, playfully repurposed furniture and green.

The insight gathered from the realization of the temporary park informed a further model study in the potentials of the public space. Three different scenario’s where developed and presented to the municipality. In these models, the project team tested not only spatial principles such as the extent and borders of the square, but also various design principles such as topography, the use of play elements or providing sheltered public interiors.

The transformation strategy for Fosnavag, is a unique project in that it deals with all scales of city planning as well as design and construction process. It goes from bold vision to pragmatic transformation and implementation strategy, from global ambition to local responsibility and involvement, from large scale vision to public space acupuncture, from temporary transformation to permanent public space. It is a public space driven city transformation and emphasizes environmental and climatic awareness while setting public space at the center of city life.

Entrant office name: karres+brands
Role of the entrant in the project: Designer (together with Ghilardi+Hellsten Arkitekter)
Website: www.karresenbrands.nl
Other design firms involved
Ghilardi+Hellsten Arkitekter, Hilde Remoy, Norsam
Project location: Fosnavåg, Norway
Design year: 2015 – present
Year Built
Completed study: 2016
Temporary Square: 2016
Design public space: Ongoing procedure


LILA 2024 Sponsor