Un-Urban Experiments: Træna

Design and Architecture workshop, Træna 2018


Un-Urban Experiments was an extended workshop gathering students from New York and Scandinavia to work together on concrete design issues between the urban and the «un-urban.» This program was an exciting and rare collaboration between the School of Visual Arts (New York), Umeå School of Architecture (Sweden), the Oslo School of Architecture and Design (Norway), and the Norwegian Centre for Design & Architecture. The Municipality of Træna and the Træna Artist in Residence program are hosting the program, with financial support from the Norwegian Arts Council and The Nordic Culture Point.

The workshop consisted of three weeks of intense collaboration and building, that culminated in an opening event during the Trænafestivalen (www.trena.net). A mixed team of design and architecture students worked with the challenge on redesigning the local Grendahus (community house). The goal was to find a new use, layout, design, and concept for the ground floor room and the outdoor space. The workshop was site-specific and based primarily on local requirements and conditions, but it was also open to the unexpected contributions that students with diverse experiences brought.

The site: Grendahuset 


Grendahuset – The Community House

Grendahuset (”community house”) is a building owned by a local association and houses various community events. It was first built by the Temperance movement in 1910, and later became Town Hall and was used for different public services until the 80s. It was then sold to the local Grenda association for 1 NOK and many of Træna’s inhabitants took part in making it functional for various uses.

The goal was to find a new use, layout, design, and concept for the ground floor room and the outdoor space.


The Result

After working with mapping needs and resources, interacting with the locals, asking about their ideas the student group agreed on creating 4 different rooms/spaces that could serve different needs:

  • A «Sun Room» to provide a bright, relaxing space to residents and visitors during the dark winters. Traena has months of total darkness in the winter and social engagement drops significantly.
  • A more conventional and flexible “Third Place” for coffee and conversation. A third place is a social zone that is neither home nor work, common in urban areas but hard to find in small rural communities.
  • A Youth Room with no adults allowed. This room has hang-out space, a movie projector, and flexible seating for the young people of Trræna to make their own.
  • An outdoor Firepit with modular seating, transforming the neglected triangular front yard into a centrally located and architecturally distinct gathering place.




In January 2019 the project was displayed at DOGA in Olso. See pictures below:

Un-Urban Experiment: TRÆNA