Un-Urban Experiments: Træna

Design and Architecture workshop, Træna 2018


Un-Urban Experiments is 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 is 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 consists of three weeks of intense collaboration and building, that culminates in public events including exposure to the visitors to Trænafestivalen (www.trena.net). A mixed team of design and architecture students will work with a concrete challenge on redesigning the local Grendahus (community house). The goal is to find a new use, layout, design, and concept for the ground floor room and the outdoor space. The workshop is site-specific and based primarily on local requirements and conditions, but open to the unexpected contributions that students with diverse experiences will bring.

The results from the workshop will be a physical and/or digital structure, a service, or a product — applying the methodologies of interaction and product design to architecture and vice versa. It will be exhibited as a documentation of the students’ process and learning, and ​a permanent contribution to the local community.

Purpose and Goals

Urbanisation makes small communities in the outskirts very aware of the constant threat of de-population. Large cities are just as aware of the effects of urbanisation, and the conflict between flourishing innovation environments and challenges of over-population, social segregation and environmental issues.

The workshop will focus on the contrasts between the urban and the non-urban landscape, and is designed to get deeper learning and cross-disciplinary training in the fields of art, architecture and design. In addition participants will learn from local, practical knowledge.

  • How can design, architecture and art give valuable answers to societal challenges we meet today?
  • Can design methods be applicable not only in the dense urban landscape, but also in the periphery, in remote and sparsely populated communities?
  • What can young professionals from urban areas in the US and Scandinavia learn from each other, and what can they all learn from small and remote communities?

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 Temperence 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 is to find a new use, layout, design, and concept for the ground floor room and the outdoor space.

#interaction How can you design the place and its function to trigger interaction between locals and tourists, and between different segments of locals, and tourists?

#newneeds What new functions that the local community have not thought about could be a contribution to the area’s regeneration?

#history How to communicate the layers of history of this old community? Is the history interesting or important to communicate at all, or are new functionality /new stories the core thing to communicate?

#events Could this site fill a function during events and festivals on the island both summer and winter?

#startups Could this site  welcome people who want to start small businesses, activities or projects?

#regeneration How can a renovation/intervention of the place inspire others to restore, or re-think old structures in the area?




The Result