60 611 Urban design Arctic City: Barents Borderscape


For students of architecture and landscape architecture.

Recommended prerequisite knowledge

Basic knowledge of urban design, urban landscape design and/or knowledge of social development and design in arctic areas.

Course content

The studio will focus on settlements and cities in the Russian/Norwegian borderland. The Arctic is changing, not only in terms of climate and environment, but also in terms of demography and urbanism. These changes have lead to intense debates and extensive research. Through the research project Future North (www.futurenorth.no) along with a series of studios, the Institute of Urbanism and Landscape has investigated the urban landscapes and the development in a variety of Arctic cities, demonstrating that there is not one standard model for Arctic Urbanism.

The studio stresses the fact that contemporary changes in Arctic cities are not necessarily connected to resource exploration and exploitation, but also to a general societal change. Most recent attempts to develop specific approaches to Urban Design see it determined by landscape and climate. The studio challenges conceptions of Arctic communities as non-urban, and concepts of urbanity in the Arctic as largely imported from other regions.

A main issue for the Arctic communities is the development of social, economic and environmental sustainability. This studio will explore the specific urban landscape of East Finnmark in northern Norway and the Kola Peninsula in Russia. These communities have undergone a rapid development, possibly facing even more dramatic changes in years ahead. This studio focuses on a wide range of issues, however, not to separate them, but rather to capture the complexity of the real and site-specific, treating them as complementary and entangled. What kind of urban design strategies, projects and landscape interventions will benefit the city in order for it to become a more livable, sustainable and enjoyable artic city?

The studios will develop sets of strong, but complementary logics of urban design that focus on a wide range of issues: social, cultural, infrastructural, ecological, etc. It is the complementarity of these approaches that first and foremost promises sustainability in the future thinking of cities in the Arctic.

A mapping of potentials and resources but also of the challenges and needs in these urban communities, including practices and desires of the local inhabitants, will form the basis for programming the design exercise in selected locations. Specific issues to be addressed may include: the development of new port facilities, the phasing out of mining, the location and design of new residences, strategies for long-term sustainable urban development with a focus on inclusive (universally designed) urban social space, the development of tourism infrastructure, as well as the facilitation and redevelopment of new social, commercial and retail services.

Learning outcomes

: After the studio, students will have acquired knowledge of theories and current issues within place-specific design of cities and urbanism in the Arctic.

: After successfully completing the studio, the student will have acquired experience and skills relating to fieldwork as well as both established and experimental forms of urban mapping. The student will have strengthened skills in urban design.

Overall accomplishment
: After successfully completing the studio, the student will be able to develop a critical position with regards to arctic urbanism and be able to develop this by gathering necessary information. Based on this the student will be able to independently develop strategic design proposals for northern, urban landscapes and cities.

Working and learning activities

The studio starts with an intensive theoretical seminar on arctic urbanism and place-specific urban design. Students will read and present texts to the class. This is followed by a week-long mandatory visit to East Finnmark and the Kola Peninsula (including Murmansk). Students will conduct mapping in groups and establish a shared knowledge base. Following this, students will program and develop a design project. This will be an individual exercise, but can also take place in teams of two. The studio also includes several mandatory design workshops relating to the design project. All students are also required to participate in the production of the studio booklet, which will document theoretical perspectives, aspects of the knowledge base and selected strategic design proposals. The final presentation will be with an external examiner.
By signing up to the course students commit to doing field work and the associated travel and accommodation expenses.

Professor in charge

Peter Hemmersam

Mandatory work requirements

Work requirements Number Number of approved Mandatory presence Comment
Counselling meeting 12 Ja
Project 1 1
Workshops 3 Ja
Oral examination 1 1 Ja

final review w. external censor

Excursions 1 1 Ja

Field trip to Finnmark/Kola Peninsula


Assessment Date Duration Grade scale Oral examination
Prosjektoppgave Individual 2 dager Pass / Fail