Public park at the corner of Lakkegate and Nylandsvine, Oslo, September 2007

The park was frequented by local residents (to walk their babies or dogs) and also by drug dealers and drug users. In particular, the pedestal of the Elk’s statue was often used as a bench to rest, chat, smoke, drink or, occasionally, drug consumption.

The first decision was that this already existing functionality of the statue’s pedestal should be exploited and developed. This move problematized the relation between our intervention and traditional sculpture as mediated by the notions of public use (function) and representation (symbol).

As a first, provisional step, a couch was displaced from a nearby dumpster and placed in front of the statue. A few authority signs were placed alongside the couch as if to indicate that the area was soon to become the site of an undetermined construction or repair.

After one week and some indications of use the couch was taken away by unknown parties (probably the city park’s cleaning staff).

The next step was to build a wooden shelter containing a small bed, storage space and a lounge chair facing southwards onto the valley. Two sets of modular foldable walls were attached to the shelter allowing for different levels of enclosure to be achieved. The surrounding area was further enclosed by two sets of fixed walls and a picnic table with benches was placed at the center.

The intention was to provide a series of functions allowing diverse types of uses. This would trigger a series of claims and counter-claims to the site (negotiations), thereby bringing to view the existing local vectors of power and provoke the user’s curiosity (what is this?) and creativity (how can I use it?).

The shelter was quickly used by passers-by. An unknown person slept inside it on the first night using the movable walls to completely enclose the shelter to provide for privacy.

After two weeks the shelter was permanently squatted and used as a home. The accumulation of trash and needles eventually attracted the police’s attention who demanded the whole complex to be dismantled.


photo: Hillevi Munthe

The squatters helped on the dismantling process recuperating various materials and parts for future use.

[go to Urban Interface Oslo blog]