A new commons in Trekroner
In 2011, a new temporary public space was inaugurated on a future building-site of Trekroner, a new urban area of Roskilde in Denmark.
It was the result of a multilayered public dialogue proces, performed within an art project but defined, built and administrated by locals. It was organized to be many things and serve many purposes by flexing its identity between being bmx-track, physical excercise area, place for birdwatching, concerts space, site for evening fire, an outdoor cinema stage or outdoor party place. Thus, it propoed a vague architecture as public domain– a crossbreed between different purposes, identities and partnerships.
Two processes of local dialogue led to the realisation of this new commons. Both were realised as a part of my eleven year long art project entitled Trekroner Art Plan Project, a commission by Roskilde City. But the commons is indeed the result of a amazing collaboration between me, Marianne Levinsen, Jøren Carlo Larsen, Karen Atwell from Roskilde municipality, with journalist and resident Jakob Fälling, Trekronerrådet and a large group of new residents of the urban area who subsequently bioth built and administrated the commons .
Threee towers in steel and acrylic glass were added by me, and built by S Asbjørn Albertsen. This production was funded by the National Danish Foundation of Art In Public Space in 2010.
Born as a temporary structure, this site was demounted in 2018. The commons as it stood until 2018, a central self governed zone between the rational suburban settlements.
Photo: Cai Ulrich von Platen
During a weekend in 2008, I initiated OPEN PLAN – collective imagining /Åben Plan – Drømmeværksted.
Participating residents of a new urban area were invited to define the physical program around a new lake, central to the master plan of the new urban development. I posed a question: What would like to share, or do together? What do you wish to share with each other?
Residents responded by producing classical imagery of how the lake area could be organised. Weeks later, their proposals were laid forward for a local public voting prcedure and a few favorites were identified. These were inserted by me into a new map of the area, elaborated in collaboration with landscape architect Marianne Levinsen . In this map, the chosen proposals were placed strategically, as reasons for principal alterations of the actual master plan for the entire new urban area.
The new plan was subsequently published in a large poster, distributed as an addition to the local paper, and subsequently put forward for approval to the municipality of Roskilde. It was approved in late 2010, and the lake area was re-organized in accordance to this plan.
Excerpt from the poster, added as an insert to the local paper in 2008. Graphic design Åse Eg and text by Jakob Fälling.
The second public dialogue was initiated by the participants, in relation to the publication of this counterplan.This publication was not edited by me. It was co-edited by residents and the artist/graphic designer Åse Eg and during their work, the roles of artist and participants changed:
Participants enquired if they could shape the poster, as an invitation for all residents to participate in a public walk within the area? And if they could perform this walk as an old fashioned treasure hunt? I naturally responded positively. But what I did not know, was that the treasurehunt partly was a cover-up for the “pirate-planting” of 80 trees on places, where residents felt trees were missing.
This action once completed, residents took yet another initiative: Not wanting to wait for the city to arrange their public shared platform for them, the group of participating residents proposed to go out and physically claim the land they needed to build a joint platform. Their chosen format for a collective platform was a new BMX track. They wished to build it themselves and insisted on sqwuatting the most expensive building lot within the new urban area – as a way of expressing how the planning was in error. This particular lot of land ought to belong to all, and become an open park.
I supported and co-facilitated their action and plan. The first act of collectively terriotializing the land was performed in 2009 .
On behalf of the residents I then negotiated their access to their choice of place, with Roskilde City. I also contributed by expanding the congregation of participants, thus expanding their concept that the track. It would subsequently be perceived not only as a track, but as a flexible multipurpose structure.
The group of participants obtained a temporary permission to mount the track in 2010. It was collectively built by residents themselves – with heavy machines and during a very long hot summer. To this track, I added a structure: A small circle of red tennis gravel, placed in one of the folds of the track. To it, I added three high towers made of galvanized steel and transparent coloured acrylic glass. I also added electricity, to open for the towers to act lanterns in the night.
Additions were also made by other players: The local housing association, Trekronerrådet added a fireplace, a stage and two large containers to the site, making it possible for the locals to use the area for events and parties. Someone else brought loads of low seats, found at a recycling site and to be used around a fireplace. Yet someone else brought a stove to make pancakes – etc. etc With these additions, the track grew into a glitch in the relatively fixed logic of the rational function, at play in the surrounding suburban settlements.
The new commons was organized as home track for a local BMX–association, but also as a point of departure for a free running path around the entity of the lake area, a place for bird watching, for social gatherings around the fire, for flee markets, hang out parties, music evenings, exercise field for elderly and playground for small children etc. etc.
Making Trekroner New Commons in collaboration with the locals, made me aware of how rarely the experiences and the ownership brought in by new residents into a new urban area – at all is considered important in planning.
On the contrary, it seems that planning builds on a standardized image of the residents as unified customers, in order to simplify budget for and production of buildings and spaces.
But if time and space was reserved from the start of an urban development, if the aim was not to entirely define and finish all aspects and all areas of the new urban area – the skills of the new residents in the planning of their area perhaps could elaborate quite different forms of public space. Thereby giving to a new urban area, what contemporary planning not seems to be able to produce – a true sense of place.
In 2018 the twoers and the self goverened place was demounted – but not closed. It was carefully moved into other locations, maintaining this surface of contact between the residents. The towers, however, were demolished in accordance with their intent, to be temporary indicators of an open possibility.