Building a Community in Lund, Sweden
- First prize in restricted competition
Program: Propose and develop the first collective housing buildings for a new urban development in Råängen, on the outskirts of Lund, Sweden. The buildings should be constructed in wood as a main material, and have a relation to Hage, a walled garden designed and built recently in the site as the first occupation for the new neighbourhood. Two buildings are proposed: the Tower House + the Corner House, as well as a public space which links them.
The narrative that drives the design and organisational model of the first collective housing buildings – the Tower House & the Corner House-, and the public space that connects them both, will be a continuation of the existing Råängen story and the elements that have been growing incrementally over the last four years. It began with a conceptual provocation to the Cathedral in the form of Nathan Coley’s temporary sculpture And We Are Everywhere (2018) which asked us to consider who we are building for, what relationship this new community will have with the church, and how it will meet the challenges of 21st century life. Hage, Brendeland + Kristoffersen’s public garden came next. As the first permanent intervention into the Råängen landscape, it makes a statement about the church’s intention to build a community, rather than a disparate series of houses and workplaces.
This community development is key to the next phase of the programme. Flores & Prats’ proposal addresses this head on, with its focus on social interaction: the Kitchen, meeting rooms, workshops, and library, as well as incidental social spaces and points of connection throughout the buildings, all of which create opportunities for local residents and people from further afield, to meet, make, eat, and learn together. The balance, and potential tension, between local community-needs and those of visitors from beyond Råängen, will require sensitive thought, as will the ownership models that are employed to make the vision a reality. While ‘community development’ is the over-arching strand of the programme, the focus for Flores & Prats’ contribution could be seen as self-sustenance; the ways in which the community creates a relationship with agriculture, the surrounding land, and the future.
The first inhabitants of the Tower House and Corner House will be pioneers facing the challenges of the 21st century – the climate crisis, our relationship to nature, the need for genuine inclusivity, and changes to our living and working patterns post-Covid.
One first stage to build this new community will be inside the collective housing buildings: the project develops the qualities of the spaces that are for communitarian uses, spaces of circulation, of gathering, or spaces just to stay, which invite neighbours to casual encounters, to greet one another, for a short talk… to get to know who lives around you.
There is a second scale in the definition of the community: the intermediate spaces which articulate the relationship of the new buildings with the areas around it. The outdoor spaces surrounding the project, the doorways to the street, the sequence of access to the building, the orientation of the openings in its facade, not only in relationship to the sun, but also to the urban situation…
And there is a third scale of the community: the one that includes all the activities to take place in the first two levels of the new constructions, which will help the neighbours and the visitors to gather together. These activities should incorporate the specificity of the area, helping to connect the new inhabitants with this place and its qualities. The new community will grow not only from people living in new homes, but also among activities of production and fabrication that incorporate the knowledge of the site, programs that are already in the area or inspired by the area: cultivation, cooking, co-working, makers, research… The aim is to start building the culture of the site, defining the atmosphere that the ground level of the new settlement will begin to breathe.
Ecology of the Site
We are interested in establishing an identification of the new community with the place where it will be living, incorporating all the agents existing in the area that can be part of the ecology of the site. The richness of this place is in its agricultural condition, a quality that should be taken advantage of. This will provide a specific character to this community, adding value and uniqueness. For this reason, the project proposes a first attempt to incorporate a culture of cultivation and growing from the land, bringing it closer to the inhabitants and the community. The idea is to establish a series of spaces for working in the land, selling, cooking and learning from this culture at different scales, in relation to the several possible users or visitors. Greenhouses and open-air facilities will help these activities to happen. We identify a fringe of about 6 to 8 meters above ground and 1 meter below ground to host this chain of coordinated and related activities. Working on the definition of what activities can be developed in this stratum is the task of the coming months. The design of the lower levels of the buildings will respond to the ambition and the needs that the different identified activities will require.
From Land to Table
In order to work on intensifying the current ecology of the site, we propose to introduce smaller scale cultivation in the area, working on variety instead of quantity. Nowadays, industrialized agriculture is the main activity in this area; therefore, there will be continuity in the cultivation of the land, but with other objectives.
To facilitate the cycle Land to the Table we will incorporate the activities of planting and cultivation, the processing of food and the culture of cooking, providing the spaces of socialising during meals. The project proposes that the kitchen-dining room-restaurant located at the bottom of one of the first two buildings, the Tower House, will use and take advantage of the products cultivated in this place. This dining-cooking space is in direct connection with Hage. The dimensions and height of this indoor space are thought to complement and take care of Hage.
That is also the reason why this kitchen-dining space at the ground floor includes a big oven to cook bread and big meals, and a place to meet, eat and gather in connection to Hage. A chef interested in managing this place would be crucial to connect the different facilities of this culture of agriculture present in the area.
Another agent present today in the area is Lund University, and it will be important to incorporate them in the research and the learning that can happen in this wide cycle Land to Table: the School of Agriculture, the School of Biology, Nutrition studies…
In the same cycle we can incorporate people from far away, like a good chef to develop the menus, cooking lessons, preparation of food…
Innovation / Productive Space: Makers’ culture
In parallel to the Land to Table cycle, it is important to introduce in the site some new technologies to develop a makers’ culture. The provision of a Fab-Lab can invite students and inhabitants to use computerized machines and develop its own research.
Other programs to share time and experiences, to socialize while doing are being thought of. One of these is a co-working space, at the ground floor of the Corner House, facing the square. This space will invite neighbours to come out of their homes and work together, avoiding that they stay home to do so in isolation. The space is generous in dimensions of plan and in height, and faces the square with big windows in order to allow a visual connection with parents and kids playing there, which will increase the atmosphere of working in company.
These and other activities located in the lower/common areas of the new buildings should ensure the participation and interest of different groups of society, with the intention to attract locals and visitors for working and learning together. It is therefore important that the activities proposed would have not just a local interest and target, but probably most importantly a wider scale of interest, trying to attract people from Lund, Malmö or even Copenhagen and beyond. This will provide the area with an atmosphere not just related to local activities, but will ensure an open flow of people that will enrich the exchange and the character of the place.
Designing the thresholds between the Public and the Private
The project has been focused both in the definition of the private domains (type of houses, sizes, number of occupants, social profile…) and of the public uses inside and outside the buildings. A public space, a square that connects the two first buildings is created between them, Hage and the Forest. This square contains all the outdoor activities of the buildings around it, and it also works as an extension of the public condition of Hage, connecting it with the Forest. We can say that the square is the echo of Hage, its double, very similar in dimensions but containing all the uses that the more secluded condition of the Hage will not allow. If Hage is a place for encounters and orientation, with a fragile and protected nature, the square can contain games, cycling and other activities that require more open and bolder spaces.
This public realm, the one formed by Hage, the square and the several paths that connect with the backyards, is crucial to ensure the coexistence of the neighbours, the interaction and exchange. It is important to offer not just great homes but also all the related spaces outside these, which are also part of the home: spaces with tension, with intensity, with different scales to stay individually or in groups… All the several intermediate spaces that go from the private to the public domain should be developed with care, as these will be the ones that ensure the community grows, making everyone to feel that they belong to a neighbourhood, to a group of people that are her/his community.
Ways of Living
The houses of the project are thought of differently for the Tower House and the Corner House. In the case of the Tower House, there is a differentiation of the houses that occupy the upper part of the building -more distant to the street level-, and the ones that occupy the first floors above the common areas of the lower levels of the building. The ones in the upper part of the building are houses that contain a double height, a big volume of air inside them. This void is the centre of the home, and the rest of the program is developed around it in smaller spaces where working, studying, sleeping… happens. The generous height is the centre of the home, where activities of gathering can be organized.
In the lower levels of the Tower, the typologies are developed in a way to allow different groups of persons to inhabit them. One of this groups could be students or researchers, occupying them for a short term. These typologies of the lower levels are therefore related to programs present in the lower floors of the buildings or nearby, like Research, University, etc.
The Corner House, with its long and lower proportion, takes advantage of the connection between the front and the back facades, and therefore the houses in this building are passing from side to side. These enjoy the civic character of the public space as well as the backyard condition of the areas located at the rear of the building, towards the fields and landscape. It hosts dwellings of one, two and three dormitories, organized in two different staircases that share spaces in a common mezzanine level.
|Situation:||Råängen, Lund, Sweden|
|Date of competition:||December 2020|
|Date of completion (expected):||Summer 2024|
|Area:||7,000sqm Housing + 1,200sqm Public Space|
|Architects:||Flores & Prats Archs / Ricardo Flores, Eva Prats|
|Studio collaborators:||Samuel Laguarta, Roxane van Kregten, Jorge Rodríguez, Lèa Binggeli, Kaisa Hjorth Kristensen, Iñigo Azpiazu|