Skilpaddeparken is a new park located at Mortensrud, Oslo, about to be realized within the next year or so. The name “Skilpaddeparken” was suggested by the local kindergarden and the new park had its name announced through an open name contest held this summer, 2021. The project was initiated by BYM (Bymiljøetaten Oslo) and started up with the need of a new meeting place at Mortensrud; a place for youths, children and neighbors to stay, play, see, hang out and meet. Mortensrud as a district is part of “områdeløft” in Oslo-sør satsingen due to various challenges in the local community. In this project, the local community has been invited to share their challenges, concerns, wishes and hopes for their neighborhood and for the new meeting place through several channels; physical, open to anyone-workshops at site, input via Nærmiljøkontoret, and a lighting guerilja led by Light Bureau. The needs and thoughts from the participation were translated onto paper by the landscape architects and light designers and turned into classical architect drawings; plans, sections and illustrations. During this time, we also installed some immediate-action installations (straks-tiltak) on site, such as benches, campfire pan, light links and removal of undergrowth/shrubs and pruning of trees to test out how these small installations would affect use, presence of people and sense of security on site. A local photographer wanted to make a photo documentation of people living at Rudhøgda, and these photos were used to make an outdoor gallery in the future park. In the process the team has been in close collaboration with BYM; Oslo sør-satsingen and Nærmiljøkontoret to keep making happenings and positive activities on site, in the future park, such as Christmas-tree lighting, temporary fairground, barbecue evenings, announcement of the park name with campfire and food to mention some. The next step of the process was to again involve youths, children and neighbors to have a say in the detailed decisions on what kind of work-out installations and play equipment they want in the park, and how to organize them. Byantropologene have led the participation process (that is still ongoing). The participation process itself is subject to evaluation, to reflect on how the process has played out and worked. The lessons learned from immediate-action installations are being used by the landscape architects to adjust the function description, according to feedbacks, for the turnkey contract.
The goal of the project is layered. The purpose of the physical park is to make a green non-space between two schools and a kindergarden into a meeting place with elements and activities that bring people together and offer physical elements needed to feel entrigued, safe and engaged to come back for. Secondly the purpose is for the locals to take back a part of their local hood that today feels unsafe and rather neglected. Besides the physical park, the purpose of the project is the synergy effects of participation itself; a) the understanding of the place as a key factor for the architects to programming the place, b) the youths and neighbors being invited to share their knowledge, concerns and wishes, thus creating ownership and strengthened sense of place, c) raising engagement and empowering the local community. The project is a semi-quick project where the local community see that changes are happening, as opposed to the many slow, long-term processes at Mortensrud in general.
Announcement of the name "Skilpaddeparken" as a result of an open name-contest
Illustration plan of the park
Immediate action installations (straks-tiltak) such as campfire pan, benches, gravel on the ground and pruning of trees
Outdoor photo gallery of people living at Rudshøgda, in between the immediate action installations (straks-tiltak).
On site participation with children from Mortensrud skole
The teams consists of landscape architects and urban planners at Pir II Oslo in close cooperation with anthropologists at Byantropologene and light designers from Light Bureau. The people behind the team are; Christine Gjermo, Betsey Marie Eskeland, Helene Tiltnes Brokstad, David Sanchez, Inger-Lill Eikaas, Pernille Fjeldhus, Catharina Sletner, Rune Kvernmo, Arve Olsen and Christina Haraldseth.