Welcome to Drammen!
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The diploma WELCOME TO DRAMMEN! works with the Port of Drammen, located mainly on the island of Holmen close to the centre of the city. Situated about 40 kilometres south-west of Oslo, Drammen is home to one of the biggest ports in Eastern Norway. As in other Northern European port cities, for instance Oslo, Drammen is redeveloping parts of its waterfront from logistical to residential, business, and recreational use, in Norway referred to as “Fjordbyen”, leaving less land for port activities. However, as opposed to for example Oslo, where the port is being moved further away from the city, Drammen has chosen a different strategy: the city is co-localising all of its port to Holmen, the part of the current port which is closest to the city centre. This puts Drammen in a position where the presence of the port in the city, despite its total loss of area, could potentially grow. However, if not physically, Drammen wishes to distance the port in other ways - new office buildings and green belts are planned to shield the nearby city from the increasing activity at Holmen. As part of this restructuring process, the Port Authority is relocating and building a new main gate and guard house for workers and truck drivers alike to access the ISPS area of the port. ISPS (International Ship and Port Facility Security) is the fenced-in, publicly inaccessible area within which goods are stored and port operations take place. The given site and the need for a new main gate is the starting point for this diploma, and it seeks to explore what happens if the gate is considered an important social node and a symbol of the port rather than just an entry. The programme of the main gate is expanded, and includes new offices for the Port Authority, a common canteen for the entire port, as well as bedrooms and an adjoining sauna for truck drivers coming in at night. In doing so, the diploma sets out to provide a variety of new spaces which improve the workday for the over 1000 people coming to Holmen for work every day. At the same time, it wishes to strengthen the relationship between the port and the people of the Drammen, questioning the outspoken wish of the port to use green belts and offices to put itself out of view from the city. The new main gate relates to and enters a dialogue with the port and its existing elements, both referencing and contrasting them. It strives for a permanent and bold expression while being informal in use, is both serious and playful, realistic and speculative. Merging thoughtfully sculpted bedrooms and offices, generous common spaces inside and outside, and an explorative construction with the matter-of-fact requirements of the transportation sector, WELCOME TO DRAMMEN! uses architecture as a tool to discuss the value we assign to the workers and the supply chain upon which we depend, and challenges the prevailing idea of profit over all else - all the time balancing between the pragmatic and the poetic.