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Architects Helen & Hard designed this new action playground off the coast of Norway to mimic the topography of the Troll field, one of the largest gas fields in the North Sea. The architects applied the industry’s geological and technological expertise, as well as their production methods and materials to an activity park aimed particularly at children. Materials taken from abandoned fields, offshore bases, and scrap heaps make up the landscape of this 1:500 scale replica of a typically unfriendly landscape for children.

Geopark-By-Helen-Hard-01-759x863 Geopark / Helen & Hard

© Emile Ashley, Helen & Hard

As the base for Norway’s burgeoning oil industry, Stavanger quickly became a knowledge hub, attracting specialists from around the world. We have sought to synergise the expertise and material resources of the offshore industry with sustainable urban development in many projects, most notably in the Geopark, a playful urban space on Stavanger’s waterfront.

Geopark-By-Helen-Hard-02-759x570 Geopark / Helen & Hard

© Emile Ashley, Helen & Hard

Utilising a vacant forecourt adjacent to the Oil Museum as the site for the new park, we drew from three different local resources in the design process: first, the geological and seismic expertise of the oil industry, second, technology and materials (including waste) related to the production of oil, and third, the ideas of local youth groups for the programming of the new park.

Geopark-By-Helen-Hard-03-759x570 Geopark / Helen & Hard

© Emile Ashley, Helen & Hard

An initial intention was to give a tangible experience of the oil and gas reservoir Troll, by far the most valuable field on Norwegian shelf, which is hidden 2000 – 3000 metres below the seabed. The topography of the park is based on the geological layers, the “strata”, of the Troll field, reconstructed in a scale of 1:500. This “geo-landscape” was further developed in an experimental sequence:

Geopark-By-Helen-Hard-04-759x570 Geopark / Helen & Hard

© Emile Ashley, Helen & Hard

The first phase was a digital manoeuvre, where the 15 geological layers were partly peeled away and thus exposed creating a park sloping towards both the sun and the centre of the square.

Geopark-By-Helen-Hard-06-759x570 Geopark / Helen & Hard

© Emile Ashley, Helen & Hard

The second phase focussed on workshops with youth groups during which the functions of the sedimentary layers were programmed for activities such as biking, climbing, exhibition, concerts, jumping, ball play and chilling-out. The layer containing the oil of the Troll field, including its drilling wells, became a skating park, while geological folds were used as exhibition walls for graffiti and street art.

Geopark-By-Helen-Hard-10-759x372 Geopark / Helen & Hard

© Emile Ashley, Helen & Hard

Geopark-By-Helen-Hard-11-759x570 Geopark / Helen & Hard

© Emile Ashley, Helen & Hard

In the third phase, the surfaces and installations were created using recycled and reshaped elements from petroleum installations, the abandoned Frigg oil platform, offshore bases, equipment suppliers and scrap heaps.

Geopark-By-Helen-Hard-13-759x508 Geopark / Helen & Hard

© Emile Ashley, Helen & Hard

The park is used by kids, parents and youths at all hours, turning the formerly abandoned site into a humming social meeting point. The park was originally planned for a temporary period of one year, but there is an ongoing discussion to make the park permanent.

Geopark-By-Helen-Hard-17-759x292 Geopark / Helen & Hard

© Emile Ashley, Helen & Hard

Project Data:

Project name: Geopark
Location: Stavanger, Norway
Coordinates: 58.973007, 5.735915
Type: Amusement park / Water park, Waterfront
Program: applied the industry’s geological and technological expertise to Waterfront youth-park and outdoor science centre for children.
Project Area: 2,500 m2
Project Year: 2008

The people:

Client / Owner / Developer: Stavanger
Landscape Architects: Helen & Hard – Erfjordgata 8, 4014 Stavanger, Norway
Text Description: © Courtesy of Helen & Hard
Images: © Emile Ashley

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Geopark / Helen & Hard
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