Europan 8 Hamar
Hamar, Norway

Design team: Dr Cristian Suau, Carmelo Zappulla & Nicolas Markuerkiaga
Clients: Hamar City Hall, Norwegian Railways, Europan Norway
Publication: Europan Norway, Europan Spain & Norwegian design media
Type: intermodality, urban renewal, housing wagons' development
Year: 2006
Award: runner-up
Budget: EUR8000
Building systems: reinforced concrete slab, metal truss, housing wagons, glazing cladding, timber decking & louvres, standard insolation, PV panels
Landscape: green roof, grass field, stone paving
Place: Hamar railway station, city centre


Urbanity in Norway seems imperative, particularly in the railway city of Hamar where its infrastructure appears as an unsolvable obstacle rather than urban potentiality. Hamar is hanging from the Scanrail network and place a strategic communicational role. It is part of the Dovre Line, a line between Oslo and Trondheim through the Gudbrandsdal valley. The Dovre Line passes mostly along the historic route between eastern and central Norway. This is the same route followed by pilgrims on their journey to Trondheim and Saint Olav's shrine in the Middle Age. The site contains a latent meaning which lies between the roughness of the machinery in motion (towards the city) and the picturesque of a wild fauna and walks along the waterfront (towards Mjøsa Lake).
The place is a movable territory where dwellers are goers. So, the living boxes must also become mobiles! So, the proposal keeps this condition by covering the railways with a greenery layer of grass, scrub s and so on. The pedestrian circulation is freely made by spontaneous pathways and shortcuts both in the meadows of summer and the snowed layer in winter. On short, a fascinating contrasts in your hands by few meters ahead from your window: the RAILTOWN! Two types of buildings define public spaces: the RAILWAY BRIDGE and the RAILWAY DWELLINGS.
The scenic shoreline of Mjøsa remains unaltered, only there exist minor interventions (i.e.: wooden pathways and jetty) that make accessible to the neighborhood. The factories and stores located in the south area will be recuperated and recycled as university and research facilities -the inland University of Hamar- and also retail. According to the new railway rearrangement, the Hamar Railway Station is allocated in the BRIDGE and the former buildings are preserved.

The project valorizes the disused railway zone by formulating a paradigmatic equation: an urban interface that combines a cultural gate which connects the city and lake, and mobile one or two stories dwellings along the railways. It is a smart urban strategy which first emphasizes the existing infrastructure character of Hamar as gate for trains that go to central and northern Norway; secondly, links the city grid with the wild shoreline of Mjøsa lake and finally, environmentally speaking, it does not dismantle, not alter neither the existing railway system nor the obsolete workshops and store buildings set up around and aside the area of intervention.

The intervention is focuses in the development of concise operations that can unblock and repair the main obstacles or failures observed in the actual fabric of Hamar. It is a question of urban surgery! By inserting prosthesis in the mutilated zones around and in Hamar railway area, we can formulate new scenarios for future transformations or daydream open-ended places. We identify two kinds of needs:
1. Link between the downtown and the waterfront, thus get ride of the railway barrier, and
2. Creation of elastic residential tissue which can environmentally reclaim the quality of the existing railway void: a territory in motion. It also establishes a domestic scale agreeable with the dwellers.

The RAILWAY BRIDGE is an external device which is strategically plugged in the Hamar’s hardcore. Its aim is to restore and improve the existing dysfunctional connectivity. The RAIL BRIDGE is capable to offer a compact programmatic menu, by providing several uses such as transporting, commercial and cultural ones.
The RAILWAY BRIDGE is also a node system which mainly depends on Gardemoen International airport (OSL) and NSB railways. So, its size is not related to the local or regional context but the international one as well. As an example, Hamar is situated closer to Gardemoen airport than Oslo capital!
The RAILWAY BRIDGE represents the bigness. It is a large scale building which can be compare with the dimensions of the Vikingskipet hall or the municipal stadium. It gathers a mixed use program consisting of a new railway station, bus stop, library and bookshops; concert hall, conference rooms and cinemas; galleries and booths along a mechanical loop. The escalator is the main organizer of flows from the car park level to the panoramic roof. The density and variety of uses that take place in it, allows combining and overlapping local and global activities, permanent and temporary ones; triggering new social meanings and appropriations; and establishing an appropriate urbanity that occurs by accepting the Hamar’s infrastructural nature.
Therefore, the RAILWAY BRIDGE the appears as a XL-BALCONY, a massive structure capable to capture the immensity of the natural surrounding and the foreground of Mjøsa Lake, the trains’ flows and the city’s silhouette.

The RAILWAY DWELLINGS represent the smallness. An movable array of the houses, their outdoor furniture, sport fields, their interaction of greenhouses with snow, plants or trees, etc.; create by traces and footprints of RAILTOWN the human scale of this mobile village: an artless way to URBANIZING WITH INFRASTRUCTURE.
They are small size dwelling and appear like ‘boxes freely spread under the main dining table’. The base modules are 3.20 meters width times 15.00 meters length time 2.65 meters height each one and they are disseminated along the existing railways. This new neighborhood-on-wheels utilizes the existing railways as base support of its housing strategy. This simple fact allows conceiving it as an organic urban tissue, constricted or extensible, but 100% adaptable. For instance, we can figure it out as a compact tissue in wintertime and expandable one in summertime; dense and full-booked during working months and more empty and porous during holidays.
The RAILWAY DWELLINGS’ residential tissue is an elastic self-ruling entity. It is organized as a cluster and performs as a sponge or hearth, and its porosity and sizes vary according to the breathing’s rhythm. The pedestrian access to the housing units takes place from the internal road, the SLAB and shoreline as well. Car park areas are set up along the internal road and through the cluster’s ramifications. Let’s see another example! In summertime, houses expand the mobile modules from the green houses or conservatories to gain natural ventilation (cooling process) and display a collapsible shading membrane along the south facades. The units also are redistributed to produce shaded courtyards or patios. However, in wintertime, the units constitute dense and compact clusters, which use the glazed units –movable greenhouses or conservatories- as passive solar collectors. A portion of active heating is cooler months is required.
If appear a guest or a new infant or if the occupants shrink, there is always a dwelling unit and furniture that can be plugged in or unplugged as well. If temporary a resident leave the neighborhood, the unit can be leased, sublet; also stored, fixed or refurnished until the next season. In addition, if the residents own the units, they can freely move out with them to somewhere along the railway! By the way, NSB already offers many disused places along Norway to be colonized.
The RAILWAY DWELLINGS can be easily hauled by road and over water. They can be lifted up by crane in its entirety and deposit on a wagon’s chassis. The residential units consist of several prefabricated modules that glide one over one, following the railways. Each module is designed and sized according to the NSB wagon’s chassis. The same logic of sliding is applied also in the railway house’s frame and greenhouses or conservatories. The wall frame is design to hang down and slide the skin that structures the indoors and outdoors membranes and openings by using smart materials.

A setting of see-trough panel (i.e.: polycarbonate boards, 2-panes glazed windows, etc) and opaque boards (lightweight and well insulated) are climatically overlapped along the walls in order to achieve an efficient indoor thermal comfort in each day and season. The outer skill is a glazed surface. The variation of thickness and material changes in the skin is manually made, by sliding up or down, left or right; inside or outside. In addition, a sliding and collapsible shading device is put aside the longitudinal façade to control the overheating in summertime. The thermal storage is carried out mainly by the floors and internal buffers.




Download PDF Design Project


scandinavian railway network  


diagram of flows  

topographic sections  

main concept  

aerial view  

master planning  

preliminary sketches  

preliminary sketches  

climatic scheme of wagon-dwelling  

across section - RAILWAY BRIDGE  

dwellings: layering  

dwellings - configurations  

section - RAILWAY DWELLINGS  summer & winter

dwelling type  

aerial view - RAILTOWN  

inner view of RAILTOWN  

view towards the RAILWAY BRIDGE  

view towards the RAILWAY DWELLINGS  

RAILTOWN & the new greenfield