Saturday, April 25, 2009

Auður / Gunnhildur

The initial goal for this project was to increase the flow of pedestrians from Laugavegur to Hverfisgata and thereby strengthen that part of the city centre. Laugavegur crosses many residential and non-commercial streets but does not have another street or area backing it up as a main shopping and nightlife street of a capital city. By strengthening Hverfisgata and connecting it better with Laugavegur, the two streets could work together as a whole and support each other with their different emphases.

The plot connects Laugavegur, Hverfisgata and Klapparstigur. To begin with it was decided to work with three existing houses, Hverfisgata 30 and 32 and Klapparstigur 30. The two houses on Hverfisgata are residential but have been vacant for a time. The house on Klapparstigur is vacant as well and used to house a nightclub.

The first step in the design process was to create a way through the plot. The objective was for it to be a smooth connection between Hverfisgata and Laugavegur while being somewhat hidden and an exciting journey, rather than a clear path like a street. While working with a complex path the buildings started to rise as rest stops in the journey rather than obstacles or destinations. Most buildings were meant to be small, housing specialty shops and restaurants. The larger ones are office spaces and studios. As the project developed the buildings started to form by the path and the final outcome was several irregular shapes mixed with rectangles.
The project consists, as priorly noted, of several buildings, connecting the old with the new. To increase the connection between the buildings, more than one door is placed on some of the buildings, creating interesting shortcuts. On the upper floors the buildings are connected with bridges and balconies. To strengthen the connection windows are used as a transparency factor, making it easy to look outside a window into the next building. An axis can be cut through the plot, from the Hverfisgata opening to the Laugavegur opening. Where the axis cuts through the buildings there is either a door or a window, strengthening the connection between the two streets even more. The experience of walking through the project is meant to be lively and exciting. The various paths and the shift between outside and inside make it possible to experience the project in different ways, depending on which way is chosen each time.

The outdoor "Sirkus-market" should be revived in its original location by Klapparstigur and Laugavegur. By the existing houses in Hverfisgata there is a small square leading out from the restaurants. A small concert space on the second floor can be opened up towards the square. The market, the square and the concert space along with the outdoor pathways bring outdoor life to the project. The bridges can also serve as shelters from the rain. The square and the market offer the possibility of having outdoor events which could possibly be connected with the stores and businesses in the project. The activities and businesses suggested for the project are not meant to be significantly innovative, although the goal is to have small businesses and specialty shops. The reason for choosing such activities is that they function well in a downtown environment and are not focused on a specific group of people. Therefore the flow of people increases, strengthening Laugavegur and Hverfisgata as a whole.

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