Neighborhood Wonderland
18 May, 2010

The nationality neighborhood map

We all know that neighborhoods can be quite varied. From one block to the next, the urban landscape can change completely, and often nearby streets are regarded as being completely different from our own. We may know the guys across the street but have no idea who lives 100m down the road. Rosengård is a liminal community where immigrants are the majority, and it is known that there are about 50 different language groups distributed across the area. Thus, neighborhoods become microcosmos.

Exile on Amiralsgatan

From the nationality map, one can see that Rosengård acts as a haven for certain nationalities. Why do we stick around our own people, even in the furthest corners of the planet? One answer can be that it’s simple: in ethnic neighborhoods it’s easier to feel understood, to buy the same roots for your mother’s stew, to say hi in your own language, and why not, it may be simpler to get a job.

My experience as a foreigner in Norway tells me that while there are actually very few Costa Ricans in Bergen (and supposedly no more than 100 in the whole country), it is convenient to have my countrymen around. There are no Costa Rican corner shops, restaurants or churches, but it is good to smile and be understood.

At the same time, this is a self-imposed exile from your new country which very often earns little public support from local residents (notable exceptions include Little Italy and China Town). One might only wonder what role does the place you live in play in this situation, and if it can be a tool to break this wall.

Choosing a site

I chose 5 sites based on the density of use by local people: cars and trains come and go, but pedestrians often live here. Very few people walk through Rosengård casually. Therefore, these are the main urban spaces where I will work: located in different parts of the district, they aim to knit a web of urban life into its surroundings. After all, if the neighbors can have it, so can we.

1, 2, 3, 4, 5 sites

Todos sabemos que un barrio puede ser un lugar diverso. De una cuadra a la próxima, el paisaje urbano cambia completamente y a menudo pensamos en las calles circundantes como realidades completamente distintas a la nuestra. Conocemos a los vecinos de enfrente, pero no tenemos idea de quién vive a 100m de nuestra casa. Rosengård es una comunidad liminal donde los migrantes son mayoría, y en la que se hablan alrededor de 50 grupos de idiomas. El barrio es un microcosmos.

Exile on Amiralsgatan

A juzgar por el mapa de nacionalidades, se ve que Rosengård actúa como refugio para migrantes de ciertos países. ¿Por qué seguimos pegados a nuestros connacionales hasta los rincones más lejanos del planeta? Una posible respuesta es por simplicidad: en barrios étnicos es más fácil sentirse comprendido, comprar las hierbas para la receta que hace la mamá de uno, saludar en el idioma propio, e incluso conseguir trabajo.

Mi experiencia como extranjero en Noruega me enseña que aunque habemos muy pocos ticos en Bergen (y no más de 100 en todo el país), sí es conveniente tener a los paisanos cerca. Si bien no hay pulperías ticas, restaurantes típicos o bares a la tica, se siente bien sonreir y ser comprendido.

Al mismo tiempo, este exilio autoimpuesto hace muy poco para congraciarlo a uno con el país adoptivo (algunas excepciones serían el Barrio Chino o la Pequeña Italia en Nueva York). Vale la pena preguntarse qué papel juega el lugar donde uno vive en esta situación, y si el barrio puede ser una herramienta para demoler este muro.

Escogiendo un sitio

Escogí 5 lugares para intervenir, basados en la densidad de uso por los residentes: carros y trenes van y vienen, pero los peatones por lo general viven aquí. Poca gente “sale a caminar” en Rosengård. Por ende, estos son los lugares donde pretendo trabajar: ubicados en distintas partes del distrito, la intención es tejer una red de vida urbana en el contexto del barrio. Después de todo, si los vecinos pueden, ¿por qué no nosotros?


12 May, 2010




Silence in the spaces in between
8 May, 2010

Can the spaces in between be reterritorialized?

The ghetto holds a great potential as an urban communicator: it is a place to share stories of arrival and departure, of new life and also of generational gaps. It is a place of hope and new beginnings, but it is a place of loneliness too. Rosengård is one such place: it is a character in itself, in the lives of the people who live and work in it. How do people interact with these character?

“… space becomes an ‘acting place’ rather than the place of action.”

Bal, 1997

As we can read in the news from time to time, this relationship between place and inhabitants can be quite tense and often mutually rejectful. It is hard to point down where the root of the problem may lie, but one can wonder: can giving this place a more humane face result in a change in direction, as to how the people of Rosengård treat their home? Many neighbourhoods have these “humane” elements, be it parks, gardens, corners, shops or cafeterias, these elements create points through which people can engage their life-contexts and relate. A reason to break the ice, so to say.


El ghetto tiene un gran potencial como comunicador urbano: es un lugar donde compartir historias de llegadas y partidas, de nuevas vidas y brechas generacionales. Es un lugar de esperanza y nuevos comienzos, aunque también de soledad. Rosengård es uno de esos lugares: es un personaje en sí mismo, en las vidas de aquellos que viven y trabajan aquí. ¿Cómo interactúa la gente con dicho personaje?

“… el espacio se convierte en un ‘lugar actor’ en lugar de ser donde sucede la acción.”

Bal, 1997

Como podemos leer en las noticias ocasionalmente, esta relación entre lugar y habitantes a menudo puede ser tensa y mutuamente exclusiva. Es difícil señalar una causa o raíz del problema, pero vale la pena preguntarse: si se le da un rostro más humano a este sitio, ¿cambiaría la forma en que la gente trata a su barrio-hogar? Muchos barrios tienen estos elementos “humanos”, sean parques, jardines, esquinas, pulperías o sodas, estos elementos crean puntos a través de los cuales la gente puede involucrarse con su espacio de vida y establecer una relación. Una razón para romper el hielo, por ponerlo de alguna manera.

Örtagården: teenager tundra
4 May, 2010

First plane: childhood. In the back: adulthood and beyond.

About 47% of the population of Örtagården in central Rosengård, is under 24. The landscape is charged with hilly paths (good for the legs!), small football goals, slides and swings. It seems like a good place to move, where your body will be put to work (watch out in the winter though). However, if one looks closer, it seems like a pretty cold place to be when you are neither a kid, nor an adult. If you are old but not SO old, and young but not SO young, there is nothing here for you. Has this topography forgotten the young?

The theatre of dreams?

Casi 47% de la población de Örtagården en el centro de Rosengård, tiene menos de 24 años. El paisaje está cargado con pasajes de topografía irregular (¡buenos para las piernas!), pequeñas canchas de fútbol, toboganes y columpios. Parece un buen lugar para moverse, en el que el cuerpo será exigido. Sin embargo, cuando uno lo ve de cerca parece ser un lugar bastante frío para aquellos que no son niños ni adultos. Si usted no es tan joven ni tan viejo, aquí no hay nada para usted. ¿Se ha olvidado este sitio de la juventud?

Urban sports in the 21st century
29 April, 2010

New urban sports?

¿Nuevos deportes urbanos?

Youth gang forces Malmö pre-school closure
26 April, 2010

Taken from the online journal The Local.

Published: 26 Apr 10 13:22 CET

A pre-school in Malmö’s Rosengård district was shut down on Monday morning in the interests of staff safety following an extended period of threats and harassment from a gang of local youths.

Henrik Wolter, a health and safety representative for the Swedish Teachers’ Union, took the decision to close the pre-school with immediate effect following consultation with district leaders.

The 34 children who attend the Herrgården pre-school have been moved temporarily to a school in Käglinge in south-east Malmö, but district chief Eva Ahlgren expects the children to move to a new location in Rosengård on Wednesday. In the longer term, places have been set aside for the children at a pre-school affiliated with Rosengård School, which is currently being extended.

“The closure of Herrgården’s pre-school was necessary. Staff have been repeatedly exposed to fighting and harassment. On one occasion a glass bottle was thrown from a window at one of the employees,” said Ahlgren.

She added that she had not previously been aware of the problem.

The pre-school is located in an area at the centre of a housing standards scandal last year when its run-down apartment complexes were found to be riddled with mould and cockroaches.

Herrgården has also served as a flashpoint for many of the disturbances that have plagued the predominantly immigrant suburb of Rosengård in recent years.

Around the pre-school lie shards of glass while the front of the building is marked by a bullet hole, the source of which is unknown.

“This is caused by gangs of criminal youths, or idiots as I usually call them,” Andreas Konstantinides, chairman of the Rosengård district council, told the online edition of the Svenska Dagbladet daily.

TT/The Local ( 656 6518)

Rosengård Skolan, Herrgården

Comment / Comentario

The social landscape has many layers, which have different actors and often, different yet intertangled causes. Architecture is a one tool in a bigger panorama, and it must work together with other disciplines in order to address the situation through a wider scope. At the time of its creation, Rosengård was thought of as a one-time solution for the housing deficit in 1960’s Sweden, but as it has become visible after some time, single-minded efforts often leave a number of questions unanswered.

However, architecture must operate on different levels. Contrary to what has been said, space is not the prime matter or architecture (or at least not always). Some times we come across potential situations where people are the prime matter we have to work with and shape, and thus we as architects must address problems through a wider perspective, but also we must be humble before the magnitude of the challenges we face.

El paisaje social tiene muchas capas con distintos actores y a menudo, distintas (pero interrelacionadas) causas. La arquitectura es una herramienta en un panorama mayor, y debe trabajar en conjunto con otras disciplinas para tratar las distintas problemáticas a través de un espectro más amplio. Al momento de su creación, Rosengård fue pensado como una solución unitaria al problema de vivienda que aquejaba a Suecia en los años 60’s, pero ahora resulta evidente que las soluciones basadas en conceptos unitarios dejan muchas preguntas sin resolver.

Sin embargo, la arquitectura debe operar en distintos niveles. Contrario a lo que se ha dicho, el espacio no es la materia prima de la arquitectura (al menos no siempre). A veces nos topamos con situaciones donde la gente es la materia prima con la que debemos trabajar y que debemos encauzar. Por ende, como arquitectos debemos enfrentar los problemas con una perspectiva amplia, pero también humilde frente a la magnitud de los retos que enfrentamos.

Synthetizing the synthesis
18 April, 2010

A game of 5.

Un juego de 5.

Transgressing the borders

An excercise of cross-information
13 April, 2010

A binary landscape, full or empty

A recount of overlapping, seemingly unrelated maps. / Un recuento del traslape de mapas aparentemente sin relación.

The bless and curse of exile
11 April, 2010

Home: a place for a gap?

So, you’re a happy toddler until one day dad (or, if you’re lucky, the whole family) has to move. Sure, many people move during their lives, but what happens when you move to another country, with another language and another understanding of the world. If you’re young enough, chances are you’ll have little problem learning the language and sumberging yourself in your new country. But at the same time, your parents may experience quite the opposite: anxiety, fear, isolation… the feeling of being a fish out of water. How does exile affect close personal relations?

Being Rosengård a transition point between the outside world and the Swedish life, as an architect one has to wonder: how does space contribute to close or increase this emotional and cultural gap?

NRK: Interview with Mustafa Can (in Swedish and Norwegian)


Así que usted es un niño con una infancia feliz, hasta que un día papá (o si tiene suerte, toda la familia) se tiene que cambiar de casa. Claro, mucha gente se cambia de casa durante su vida, pero ¿qué sucede cuando uno se va a vivir a otro país donde se habla otro idioma, y se entiende el mundo de forma diferente? Si usted es lo suficientemente joven, probablemente tendrá mínimas dificultades aprendiendo el idioma y sumergiéndose en su nuevo país. Pero al mismo tiempo, a sus padres les sucede lo opuesto: ansiedad, miedo, aislamiento… y todo lo que acompaña a la persona fuera de su contexto. ¿Cómo afecta el exilio a las relaciones personales?

Siendo Rosengård un punto de transición entre el mundo exterior y la vida en Suecia, como arquitecto me pregunto: ¿cómo contribuye el espacio a cerrar o aumentar esa brecha emocional y cultural?

NRK: entrevista con Mustafa Can (en sueco y noruego)

Pecha Kucha Rosengård
22 March, 2010

20 images for what it’s worth.
20 imágenes que valen más que una hablada.