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Approach to building

Building Community

What we’re doing in Råängen is deceptively simple. On a twelve-hectare piece of land that is currently a series of fallow fields on the outskirts of Lund, we are commissioning artists and architects to make art, buildings and conversations for a new community.

We are taking our time, testing ideas, asking questions, liberating ourselves from the idea that in order to progress, we must provide answers to these questions. We have no masterplan but rather an approach to building. Each activity feeds into the next; questions and issues that are raised by the people we involve in the commissions, public events, and texts, become part of the brief for the next project.

We think of each strand of activity as a commission. No differentiation is made between an artwork, a public garden, and a building. Artists and architects are commissioned in very similar ways, with open briefs, and an invitation to talk, look, see and do.

It is important to us that we build a neighbourhood which is an extension of the historic town of Lund rather than a development on the periphery. In order to achieve this, we understand that there should be no whimsical rendering, no point of arrival that sets out or celebrates a finished process, but rather a slow incremental, complex pattern of growth that develops over generations and is never complete.

While there are few residents currently neighbouring the site, we recognise that this is a real place, with a history, an atmosphere, an identity that must be honoured. When you stand in the grass, looking out to an expansive horizon, there is a sense that time and space have collapsed, but Råängen is not a blank slate; this is not a tabula rasa.

Cathedral Thinking

Whilst we are eager to ask questions, we do have a clear sense of the values that we would like to embed in this new neighbourhood: respect and care for nature and productive land; a sense of ownership and pride, and an openness and hospitality for all. These values must be tested, framed and scrutinized if they are to have any real traction in the everyday reality of residents.

Nathan Coley’s provocation to the Cathedral in the form of ‘And We Are Everywhere’ has established the basis for a discussion about the Church’s presence in the new community and our commitment to building a neighbourhood for all. Brendeland & Kristoffersen’s public garden, ‘Hage’, has significantly informed the conversation about the way we think about the relationship of Råängen to Lund and the slow transition from farmland to city, and has cemented in our minds the power of creating a public space which defines the parameters for future buildings. Architects Flores & Prats are now exploring the potential for the first buildings to begin the slow process of building and supporting a new community.

The Collective Effort

Collaboration is a central part of our project: we will not be delivering everything ourselves but in partnership and dialogue with local businesses, commercial developers, housing co-operatives, cultural organisations, and individuals, as well as the local authority. We are keen to learn from other initiatives, places and practitioners. We’ll borrow ideas (architect Yona Friedman’s beautiful little cartoon sketches with accompanying text: ‘It cannot be planned; it can only happen’ is a particular favourite) and make links across continents and histories to recognise that what we are doing is not new.

We’ll be working with others to deliver 85% of the building programme in Råängen; the remaining 15% will be delivered by us. The profit from the former will feed into the latter. The developers we work with will be interested in the path we’ve chosen to take and will have expressed a desire to work with us to make a community.

In our building programme, we’ll be asking what can be left to chance and what should be fixed, and we’ll be looking at different ownership models, self-build programmes, and changing demographics. We’ll also be considering spatial standards, the sharing economy, how to build responsibly in a climate crisis, and who has access to housing. We aim to create space for a broad discussion about how we should live in the 21st century. The questions tested in our own projects will, we hope, inform the wider development of Råängen.

The project is modest in scale and will only become relevant if built. There is every chance that we will fail but we hope that some of the discussions and the emerging results will influence other projects further afield.