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The enthusiasm was tangible when around 200 ‘city centre enthusiasts’ attended the presentation of the Sparkling Spaces knowledge report. The report, prepared by Eriksen Skajaa Architects on behalf of DOGA, is the first milestone and the starting shot for the practical work in the Sparkling Spaces project: new approaches to vacant spaces.

“It’s been fantastic to see how many bottom-up initiatives have been launched around Europe. The report shows that we have much to learn here at home. There are many different ways to approach the problem of vacant buildings and spaces,” says Arild Eriksen from Eriksen Skajaa Architects.

The knowledge report contains more than 50 European examples of measures aimed at transforming vacant buildings. Eriksen Skajaa Architects has travelled around several countries and defined problems in order to see how different parties have approached challenges related to deserted city centres and unused structures.

“I hope everyone can find examples in the report that are relevant for their city. They should not hesitate to use the examples in a broader sense: check out the literature mentioned, contact the people in the examples themselves or contact us,” says Eriksen.

“It’s also important to view the projects within a joint context, not just separately. The best projects are those that combine, for example, volunteering, art and commerce,” he says.

Enthusiastic municipalities

Among the around 200 in attendance were representatives from the three pilot municipalities of Arendal, Lærdal and Tromsø.

“We’ve experienced a huge amount of enthusiasm about the project. We’ve received lots of input for measures and proposals for collaboration from a wide range of parties, both volunteer and commercial community participants,” says the Project Manager in Tromsø Kari Helene Skog.

She looks forward to comparing their project plan with the other pilot municipalities and receiving feedback from the others on the measures they are considering implementing. The primary goal of the project is to help city centres become more vibrant, lively places in the future, whether it is a big city or a small town. More concretely, the project aims to create tools and methods that can be used by Norwegian municipalities to activate vacant spaces.

“Hopefully, the project will result in long-term frameworks for how to transform vacant buildings and spaces in Tromsø. We already see that much can be gained by increasing organisational and renting expertise and that better collaboration and easier contact between various parties can be of considerable value,” says Skog.


Arild Eriksen på scenen under levende lokaler
Arild Eriksen from Eriksen Skajaa Architects presented the Sparkling Spaces knowledge report at DOGA on 20 April. Behind him are the project managers for the Sparkling Spaces project Siri Høibo Holmboe (left) and Marte Dorothea Marstrand. Photo: Andreas Birger Johansen

More municipalities wanted

“It was incredibly inspiring to see how many attended the launching of the knowledge report. We now hope that just as many will contribute through the project network, says Marte Dorothe Marstrand, one of the two Sparkling Spaces project managers.

After the report was presented, she and Co-Project Manager Siri Høibo Holmboe organised a workshop for the pilot municipalities and reference group, facilitated by Mette Mossige from Prologue.

The next day, the pilot municipalities met with project management consultants from Innovation Norway.

“We’re excited to see the final project plans and the goals that each of the three pilot municipalities have established for their part of the project. The real-time researchers from NIBR are to be involved in the process from start to finish. We hope that this will make it possible to contextualise the efforts made in Arendal, Lærdal and Tromsø within the bigger picture and that they can be of use to others,” says Project Manager Holmboe.

The project results will be valuable for municipalities of all sizes around the country. If you are working to activate vacant spaces in your municipality, you can participate in this process, as Sparkling Spaces is looking for municipalities to add to the project network. Members of the network can benefit from first-hand knowledge throughout the project duration, as all parties in this extensive network are pursuing the same goal and have access to DOGA’s other networks and areas of expertise.

Download Eriksen Skajaa Architects’ knowledge report on Sparkling Spaces (In Norwegian only)

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