Sustainable Urbanism in Tasiilaq

Sustainable Urbanism in Tasiilaq VLAD LYAKHOV AHO, 2014


Presentation for the Tasiilaq Studio, AHO. Making the locals' informal solutions more efficient and sustainable.

Transcript of Sustainable Urbanism in Tasiilaq

Page 1: Sustainable Urbanism in Tasiilaq

Sustainable Urbanism in Tasiilaq


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Tasiilaq is the biggest town on the East Coast of Greenland. Located just by the Polar Circle. Traditionally in Greenland the West Coast is more devel-opped, bigger cities, transporting knots, more working places and educational centers and even more touristic activities are concentrated in Nuuk and west-ern part of the island. The more interesting it becomes to se Tasiilaq - a place, that has preserved more of a traditional lifestyle, more primordiality and faces now a little bit differen challenges.




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One of the specifics of life in Tasiilaq, that all the goods (literally everything: food, clothes, cars, building materials etc.) are being delivered by ships. Huge shiping vessels (mainly from Den-mark) arrive to the port and carry all the goods in containers.


One of another specifics of local life is fish-ing and sea-hunting. Nearly everyone is en-volved into this activity, doesnt matter if they are professional fishermen or just for hobby, for themsleves. Fishing and seal-hunting is something that is happening there all year-round. That is the activity that feeds very many people there.

Limited Season

Good and stable shipping takes place approx-imtelly only 6 months-a-year. For half-a-year the sea is closed for big shipping vessels and all the logistics is has to manage all the deliveries during this short season. After sea is closed for ships the only delivery way becomes helicopter. Which is enormously ex-pensive and limited.

Specifics of local economy

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Tasiilaq - a landscape of detached houses

Tasiilaq is a landscape of single houses. Roads are quite nominal and are not defined by asphalt and precise limits, there is not so much visible infrastructure in the city, no parks, nearly no defined pavements, and apart from a couple of public buildings (police, shops, post office, city-hall, school, hospital...) detached hous-es, or country houses are the bricks, from which the city is built. Lets put it like that - houses are the things that make Tasiilaq , from which it concists from. And the way Tasiilaq’s houses (and the area around them) look like, defines how Tasiilaq itself looks like. The image of a sin-gle house is the image of whole Tasiilaq.

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One of the spicifics of Greenland’s Economy is that the delivery is quite limited: most of goods are being delivered by the sea, through vessel ships. Apart from the main deliveries this activity leaves some noticable leftover artefacts, such as containers, palettes and barells.

These things are rarely being transported back by ships, so they are deposited in the city. their ammount becomes realy big. Of course they dont stay in the port, but spread by locals all around the city and makes new uses for it.

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As far as people in Tasiilaq have a special lifestyle, their needs are a bit special as well. Most of their houses are built in typ-ical north european way, the way we build them at our homes. But the needs for dwellings are different in Greenland due to the differences of local economy. Apart from living places people also need such things as: 1) Fish dryers, 2)Dog huts, 3) Boat holders and maintenance place, 4) clothes dryer, 5) Nets dryer and storage 6) Place to store dog-sledge and many others. All these funtions have not been taken in mind by european designers, that built houses for Tasiilaq. It means that people upgrade their houses according to their real needs by themselves. Normally they just add some selfmade plug-ins to their houses. And of course, such a handmade design often looks quite massy.

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It was already said, that Tasiilaq is very much dependant on shipping. When goods arrive to Tasiilaq they normally being delivered in spe-cial things: containers, barrels, on palletes. After ships unload this together with the goods, they just stay in the city depositing. And these things became the favorite resource for the locals to create their handmade upgrades from. Locals tend to use them everywhere (be-cause delivery of materials is expensive, and these materials are either cheap or free), finding quite smart solutions for how to give second life to these technical materials. But consequences of such recycling doesnt corresponf very well with aesthetics. Often huge deposits of these materials and inventions create a huge mass and do not become decorations for houses and the city in general.

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Local inventions for Tasiilaq’s everyday life

Barbeque made from a barrel Flowerbed made in a tyre

Bridge made from a palette

Selfmade clothes dryer

Selfmade fish dryer Selfmade fish dryer with steps made from a palette

Trampoline holders made from palette

Garage-patio made from ship containers

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Local inventions for Tasiilaq’s everyday life

Selfmade kids swings Boat holders made from palettes Entrance shoe-cleaner made from an old radiator

Fish dryer made from an old iron board

This device made from old flasks prevents the windows flip and cre-

ate much noize during storms

Boat engine holder made from an old clothes hanger

These are plastic bags filled with water and hung out, supposed to

scare flyes while drying fish

Handmade dog treatment (splint to heal a broken leg)

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800 mm.

144 mm.

1200 mm.

~0-100 NOK15-21 kg


5.898 m

2.352 m

2.394 m

572 mm.

851 mm.

~ 8000 NOK2300 kg

$200 L ~ 0-500 NOK


Dimensional studies of the most common materials

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800 mm.

1200 mm.

1200 mm.




X 3

X 4

X 6=

Palette structure study

Explode-diagram. One palette gives at least 13 wooden decks.Palette is the most widely-used material

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It was proposed to redesign the process and the system. By now people just take directly the things home and make their thing from them randomly. After introducing the workshop it is supposed to be the place to store, to disassamble the pallets/material and to build inventions there. And take home the final nice-looking product,

without creating a mass around the house.




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The Idea of introducing this working area/workshop has

several goals:

- to introduce a more suffi-cient system of selfmade in-ventions practice

- to decrease the ammo-unt of shipping leftovers and materials around the houses and in the city

- to create a public so-cial space, where people can gather, work together, communicate and share thoughts

The building for workshop

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The Workshop building

The location of the Workshop was chosen because of several fac-


- it is close to the harbour, from where all the shipping materials arrive

- it is in city center, that makes it more or less equally distributed to all the living areas

- it is surrounded by other public buildings such as post office, pub, shop

- the building is temporary vacant and perfectly fits to our needs. This used to be a Coal Storage, than bakery. Nowadays the building is abandonned, and can be used for our new suggestion.

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Location of the workshop and its relation with other public buildings











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Workshop (red) is close to the port that makes it easy to deliver the materials from ships to the workshop. And also allows to equally distribute the gadgets to leaving areas.

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Main Entrance

Community Room(O�ce/Library)


BlacksmithMetal Workshop

Engine WorkshopMain Working Area

Outdoor Working


Outdoor Working /Relaxing Area

Well sheltered Public Open Space

CirculationShelves Tools Storage


Plan of the workshop and surrounding area

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Practical model

The idea was to create something using palettes, but in a more sustainable way. Try to provide upcycling, enhancing the quality of the materials. The example shows an outdoors sofa, made from typical EuroPal palettes. The palettes were just screwed together. The most time took to process the palettes with sand paper, to give them a smooth and pleasant shape and get rid of sharp edges.

Costs:3 palettes - free

1 pack of paint - 56 NOK

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