Spaces under urban structures have inspired some classic songs: “Under the Bridge” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers and of course “Under the Boardwalk” by The Drifters. If another song in this genre is written to celebrate the underside of a city structure, it will probably come from a band from Drammen, Norway.
A new city park, “Bruparken”, was built beneath the E18 motorway in Drammen, Norway, turning an unused urban space into an inspiring feature in the city.
The spaces beneath structures like underpasses and bridges are often forgotten, avoided spaces: notorious “no go” areas, both for residents and urban planners. Drammen has turned the negativity of such spaces into a positive with a welcoming park that has become a symbol of the vast transformation of the city.
Existing walkways along the river and through the town are connected to Bruparken, weaving the space into the daily meanderings of residents. New cladding beneath the bridge reflects light and colors from the ground, while water fountains and dynamically designed areas make the space beneath the motorway a playful, active space, even in rainy weather.
The Skate Park skate bowl, an outdoor stage and hockey court invite versatile use of the area for many segments of the city’s population. Situated under the bridge itself, users are sheltered from rain, which is of vital importance to skaters. The various activities, their sound and movement, reclaim the sights and sounds of the area from the motorway traffic above.
Bruparken is not only an exceptional area for local populations, but a model of urban resourcefulness and respect for citizens of all ages, from which many cities can learn. Available land for recreation and play may seem limited to some, but with imagination and determination, cities can, in many cases fairly easily, return areas once dominated by car infrastructure back to the people of the city.