M Trondheim has big plans in store Words: Kristin Solhaug Næss Illustration: Andrew Natt
s a third year student, I was asked to talk about my thoughts on brain drain and city centre development in Trondheim, at the yearly business conference arranged by NiT. I talked about how we had to get back to the city centre, dreaming of how all the empty buildings would be filled with startups and exciting new businesses. At the time, we were at the starting point of Studio:Beta, a student HUB for student initiated projects. We wanted to get out of the studios at the university and engage with the city centre, as we walked the streets to find an empty space we could occupy for a little while. Today, I consider Trondheim my hometown. I moved here five years ago, but it was not until I started engaging with the city through my work that I really developed a sense of belonging. As an architecture student and part of NTNU Live Studio I have been able to use the city as a learning playground, testing ideas, studying people and places, exploring architecture and city planning through experience. It’s become my own city now, not just a place I go to study. How come? What is the reason I don’t want to move back to my family down south, or seek bigger opportunities in Oslo or other places in the world?
here five years ago, "butIitmoved was not until I started
She also told me about the project Kunnskapsaksen, an urban development strategy drawing an axis from the area of Sluppen, all the way to the city center, and further to Brattøra and Nyhavna. This is covering an area with a huge potential for city development. As the name suggests, you also find the new parts of the NTNU campus placed centrally along this axis in the strategy. “This way of thinking supports the focus on new sustainable, technological solutions, so that Trondheim can keep it’s commitments to the new city environment deal with the government,” says Bøkestad. THE LIST trd T HE NINT H ISSU E
Because even though the campus project still will take years of planning, it feels like the city spirit is changing. It’s almost like the city has changed gears the last years, speeding up it’s pace. The planning department is keeping up with their own strategy here, focusing on how to experiment with urban space. One of the projects the city-planning department is working on is the project called “En blå tråd,” focusing on activating the urban spaces along the river. Temporary installations and student projects are a part of this strategy, testing spaces for a short period of time, engaging with the city.
engaging with the city through my work that I really developed a sense of belonging.
One of the hottest topics these days regarding city development is indeed where the new parts of the university should be located. I asked our chief of city planning, Hilde Bøkestad, about the campus project. She confirmed the importance of a campus being closely connected to the city, expressing hopes that “NTNU and SINTEF can use the city as a lab, researching the needs of our society.”
It’s up for discussion whether this new campus strategy really will “give the opportunity to have a seamless interface between the city and the research clusters,” as Bøkestad puts it. One of the main reasons I’ve become so fond of our city is because of the luck we had on actually finding an empty space in the city we could occupy. In our small space in Prinsens gate 8, Studio:Beta has been the place for endless discussions about what to do with the street outside and why all the stores have disappeared in this area.The think tank Urbanistene was born here, inviting the city in for public debate.The space has been our hub for the last two years, giving us the chance to engage with our city. And we are not the only ones seeking the city center, as small innovation hubs are popping up in the streets of Midtbyen, making all my dreams come true.
“In the development of the Nyhavna area we are trying to continue our strategy with temporary installations,” Bøkestad tells me, as the planning strategy process for the harbor area is coming to an end. These experiments with urban space have been one of the best learning platforms throughout my years as a student, as the planning department has put their energy into collaborations with the students of the city. I believe things like this are what make Trondheim a real student city, challenging the campus project on how to actually achieve their goals on integrating the new campus in the city.