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Urban Design: The New City Center

This report is a result of a collaboration between The Foundation for Design and Architecture in Norway and the Institute of Urbanism and Landscape at the Oslo School of Architecture and Design, and the purpose was to uncover consequences of, and potentials in, shopping centre construction in small and medium sized Norwegian towns. In particular, focus was on the question of how new shopping centres ihave nfluenced the development of public urban space and the perception, liveliness and attractiveness of city centres.

Students visited 6 Norwegian towns that represent different configurations of the relationship between shopping centres and city centers: Harstad, Hamar, Moss, Haugesund, Steinkjer and Åndalsnes. While these towns differ in size and the number and location of existing and planned shopping centres, they display similarities and share a certain set of problems. We found that the majority of these towns struggle to maintain sustainable retail activities in all parts of the designated town centre area. Partly this may be a consequence of these areas being too large – an issue illustrated by the apparently over-sized pedestrian streets with a proportion of empty shops found in most of these towns. Internal competition between existing and newer centres is also a fact in many of the places visited, and the prospect of ‘dead malls’ in Norwegian towns and cities is no longer a remote possibility. In one instance we found a semi-dead shopping centre in close proximity to a semi-deserted pedestrian street, a sign of a ‘deadly triangle’ where the pedestrian street, external shopping centres and integrated centres slowly kill each other off.

Contributers: Martin Monrad Andersen, Pernille Dammann, Aleksander Stein Engvoll, Edouard Gouthiere, Paal Clemet Wenger Hagene, Gudrún Lilja Jónsdóttir, Olav Fergus Kvalnes, Zhen Liu, Annisa Solihah Sontani, Xue Wu


Hemmersam, P.Bratz, C.(2013). Urban Design: The New City Center. Oslo: AHO