Björn Hegardt/Belin, Oslo
Project: 24 stories (to be realized)
Arriving at the apartment on a grey day in December, I found myself in an architectural setting reminding me of Skopje (Macedonia), where I had returned from only a few weeks before. I spent the fall in Skopje, working on a project that to a high degree included the local community. A way of working that was new to me, furthermore intriguing and difficult, leaving me no desire to continue this approach in the immediate future.
After spending some days in the apartment, reading about Walter Gropius and his utopian ideas regarding the modern city, I found more similarities between Skopje and Gropiusstadt. The reconstruction of Skopje after the big earthquake took place in the same span of years, as Gropiusstadt was constructed (1963 - 1973). Both were visionary planned, but modified during construction. The slogan "Licht, Luft und Sonne!" is still noticeable, even though density and proportions have changed.
What struck me in the artist apartment was its original state. The linoleum floors and the glass over the doors resembled the atmosphere of the staircase. Also the bathroom had a neutral and slightly institutional imprint. When you stepped into the apartment, the feeling of the building's (original/authentic) entirety, still remained.
From the view of my living room I got a glimpse of equivalent apartments (across the street), where the course of time and different residents has left its traces and transformed the original idea of modernism into diverse personal samples of coziness and interior design. Revealing layers of time and change. From white walls and grey linoleum to sometimes overly furnished, wall-to-wall carpets and heavy curtains, far away from the functional and modernistic ideas of the architects.
The house at Sollmannweg consists of 24 floors, where the artist apartment is on the 8th. All the living rooms on the floors above and below have the same layout. The shape of the room reminds me of an irregular piece of cake, narrow at the entrance and wider by the windows. Taking a photograph from the corner of the 'cake' suggests a slight fisheye-perspective, like peeping into someone's home. Each photograph is taken from a fixed angle to emphasize the strict layout of all the levels, as well as the interior variations.
The result is a series of photos, which at first glance looks similar, like a room refurbished in various manners. After a while the difference in the views from the windows emerges, with more and more sky visible the higher it goes.
After all it turns out to be a project including the local community again.