I am standing at the edge of the town. The hills are not the hills. I gaze at them, waiting for a word. Words and landscape. I see them as flat topped … buttes. Horizontals cutting across the horizon. A symmetry in their patterns.
The AHO Future North team has met up locally in Kirkenes with our partners at the Barents Institute. This is our first joint visit to the Circumpolar North. Our project team has gathered together a diverse set of interests and competencies: landscape theory, architecture, interaction design, ethnography, political science, and narrative.
After some hours of being on the road and stopping now and then to observe the landscape we turn a corner and suddenly instead of the expanse of rolling hills and rocky outcrops covered in autumn birch is a wide and open valley. The road bisects this unexpected space and we all comment on the enormous fields. In the bright sunlight we see that they are already all mown. This is Zapadanya Litsa River.
As we venture north and east in order to observe urban and territorial change on the Kola Peninsula, we travel through regions whose contemporary built environment dates back only to the third decade of the last century. Visiting the mining towns of Zapolyarny, Kirovsk, Apatity and Monchegorsk what we see and what is revealed to us in terms of urban history and monuments are 1930s city plans, 20th century architecture often referred to as Stalin-, Khrushchev-, and Brezhnev-era residential zones, and WW2 memorials.