15.07.2012 Jakob Schoof

Bastion against Polar Wind

A new centre for Klaksvik, the second largest town of the Faroe Islands, has been planned by Henning Larsen Architects. The design by the Danish team is an illustration of urban development specifically adapted to a very cold and rainy climate zone. The order of magnitude of urban development on the Faroe Islands is not comparable to that in Germany, or even more so, in the growing threshold countries like India and China: only about 4,800 people live in Klaksvik, the second-largest built-up area in the North Atlantic island group. And yet plans are in place for a radical development of a central area of approximately 150,000 m² in the near future. The development plan includes everything a small town might need: a cultural house, a maritime museum, housing, offices and shops.
Out of the 154 proposals submitted, Henning Larsen Architects, based in Copenhagen, won the anonymous competition held for the urban development of the new town centre at the beginning of June 2012. The architects based their design on the local climate: Klaksvik is situated in the north of the group of islands, on the edges of two opposite mountain ridges about 650 m in height and connected by a low-lying area where two inlets meet. It's always windy – with the rain-laden winds from the south blowing more often than the cold winds from the north. The new development located on the low-lying area between the mountain ridges aims to protect inhabitants and visitors from these winds. Computer-aided simulations of the wind flows constituted an essential part of the design development process.
'The last 50 years’ urban development in Klaksvík has allowed the wind to whistle through the streets without hindrance#, says Ósbjørn Jacobsen of Henning Larsen Architects. 'As opposed to this, the proposal for the new city centre takes a historic, urban approach and re-establishes a city centre with a comfortable microclimate. Displaced building volumes break the dominant winds and contribute to providing new comfortable shelter zones in the city.'
The star-shaped structure of the area is divided into three zones: a green, recreational area; a central city square surrounded by shops, cafés, a library, public administration facilities and housing; and a bay area with museum, waterfront promenade, more cafés, shops and residences.
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