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Oslo Water Metropolis

Type of project
Basic research
Multiple sources

About the project

The project focuses on landscape in relation to the project of the metropolis – the possibility of imagining and realizing a coherent form and image of the space of inhabitation. The project proposes the image of Oslo Water Metropolis , as a tool for elaborate descriptions and projections that are able to inspire visions, projects and policies. The aim is to stimulate a dialogue in the Oslo region, to transfer knowledge from relevant experiences and models, and to invite experts and regional actors to engage in a research-by-design.​

The focus of the project is a design-driven reflection on the role of water landscape in relation to the project of the metropolis. To understand, order and act. Landscape as a `maniere de pensar l`urbanisme´.

More specifically, the aim is to refocus the discussion about regional visions and projects on their backbone, the water system with its unique and diverse landscapes and define a high-quality approach to their potentials.

The present relationship between water and territory is ambivalent. In a remote time, water has shaped the physical setting of regions with its diversity of landforms (valleys, hills, mountains, plateaus, shoreline…) and, in turn, throughout history, practices of water management had modified landforms to improve conditions for inhabitation, the use of the physical environment (for producing, living, transporting…).

Water management has been and is instrumental to the process of territorialisation creating a wealth of structures and spaces, conditions of social and economic practices. Agricultural areas and promenades along water edges, industrial space on rivers and hydropower dams. Water connects activities and people across all scales. Water symbolises local and regional qualities. Water is expression of collective imagination and memory.

There is an increasing awareness on the crisis of the metropolitan water cycle in the Oslo region. Excess of water (flooding), scarcity of water (draught), and pollution are present burdens that are exacerbated by the uncertainty of climate change. This calls for a radical modification of the water system. Looking from inside out, from the perspective of the water system, this implies undergoing a process of restructuring. This is based on the key principle of giving more space and greater freedom to water. A water system, open and accessible, can support and symbolizes local and regional qualities. Looking from the outside in, from the global prospective, regions are increasingly perceived as `integrated areas, a metropolis. The appeal of which lies in the quality of life is able to offer´ as whole. A new positive relation with the water system at all scales is instrumental to this achievement.

However present polices and projects shows a lack of a cohesively articulated attitude of the region to its water system. Observers shows that innovative vision and projects in the European context are based on a renewed interest for the form and function of landscape and take water as one of the points of departure for imagining a shared future and the strategy for realize it.

With the purpose of stimulating a further dialogue in the  region we aim to transfer knowledge from relevant experiences and models, inviting the protagonists to engage in a research-by-design with local key actors in the Oslo region as case study.

In focusing on the notion of landscape in relation with the project of the metropolis, we propose the image of the Oslo Water Metropolis. An image, as a concept, is a tool for elaborate descriptions and prefiguration able to inspire visions, projects and policies.