Grensen (NO)

The Synthetic Site Folder and Site Brief are available for free.
Please register and login to access the Complete Site Folder.



Scales L/S

Team representative Architect, urbanist and landscape architect
Location Trondheim
Population Trondheim kommune 201 496 inhabitants

Reflection site 34 ha - Project site 0,7 ha

Site proposed by NTNU (Norwegian University of science and technology)
Actors involved NTNU
Owner(s) of the site NTNU

Commission after competition Commission valued at 500. 000 NOK (ex VAT) in 2024/25 for developing the project further through involving users, giving feedback to the zoning plan and revising designs. NTNU retains the option to increase the commission’s size and scope with another NOK 500.000 at a later stage.

More Information

Inhabited milieu's challenges

The Europan 17 site Grensen is strategically located between The Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) and Norway’s 3rd largest city, Trondheim. NTNU is planning a major restructuring of its campus and these upcoming changes will elevate Grensen to a strategic position as a campus access point from the city as well as embedding it firmly between new university buildings.
NTNU enters Europan 17 for ideas on how to make Grensen a living lab for CARE: experimental architectural approaches to working with built heritage through innovative adaptation and thoughtful programming. The site and its historical wooden buildings have the potential to become a platform through which the campus can open up to the city, mixing uses and adding diversity and liveliness to the area.
NTNU acquired the site with future development in mind, but challenges arose after the existing buildings were listed as historically significant. A period of uncertainty followed, with the listed buildings being rented out or used as temporary accommodation for visiting researchers. Half of the houses have fallen into disrepair from neglect and are currently uninhabitable. There was no coherent plan for Grensen and seemingly no hope for the quietly decaying buildings. Now entering into Europan, the site has a chance to come alive as a meaningful link between the university and the city.
The university sits on a hill overlooking Grensen. This physical removal of the campus from city life has created challenges for students and faculty, who have pitched ideas for potential on-site programs. Visions have included a meeting spot for visiting researchers, faculty and neighbors, a space to showcase and com- municate ongoing research and in general, serve as a social interface between the university and the city.
The university can feel like an isolated island and increasing concerns for the mental health of university students and staff make the task of connecting NTNU and the city through Grensen all the more critical. Grensen is not just a mere revitalization project. NTNU’s mission statement is creating new knowledge for a better world and the site’s unique situation and proximity to campus makes it an ideal place for experimentation. Can the site bring the university down from its hill and become a living lab where research and prototyping can happen in a real-life setting?
The site poses needs that the university’s faculties are uniquely positioned to answer. NTNU is at the forefront of research on architectural preservation, sustainable building practices and technology for building energy efficiency. The houses of Grensen belong to historical typologies typical to buildings in Scandinavia and this makes the site ideally suited for practice based research projects on everything from energy efficiency to social sustainability. By working intelligently with its built history, Grensen can become a living link between the city’s rich past and forward-thinking future.

Questions to the competitors

Propose a concept and a process for transforming Grensen into an extroverted, social and accessible urban environment so that the area can function as a social interface between the city and the university.
Do this through innovative architectural interventions and thoughtful programing of university functions under an umbrella of a living lab that can generate knowledge for a better world.

Questions on the site

Dear staff, I have been viewing the documents included in the complete folder, but I can’t find any plan, section and elevation of the project area and of the buildings on the site (except a general plan). Could be possible to receive additional drawings, i.e. sections and elevations for each building such as the drawings included in the brief?

Yes. It seems the files were missing by mistake.
-They have now been uploaded to the "0- new docs after launch" folder. 

Dear staff, could you clarify the meaning of: “the building can be moved or demolished” (Brief, page 20)?

The type of old wooden houses present on Grensen are relatively easy to move. The phrase refers to the map of buildings on the site, and the comeptitiors are free to propose new locations for the buildings, or remove them comepletly if it works with their concept. 

Dear staff, is there a regulation that we should take into account to design the interventions on the buildings (class B-C) in the project area?

The regulations that have to be taken into consideration are described in the brief. One of the important parts of this task is to make a good concept on how to put the historic buildings to good use, and how to design new architecture in and around the old houses. There are no specific regulations the comeptitors have to follow to achieve this. The competitors will be judged on the overall strength of the concept.

Dear staff, we have found the drawings for the existing buildings that were uploaded recently. Unfortunately, we could not find the ".dwg or .dxf" versions as these were only in PDF format. Would it be possible to upload the ".dwg or .dxf" format for these drawings? Thank you very much.

Unfortunately, the drawings of the existing historic buildings are only available in pdf. We have no dwg or dxf versions of them. 

Dear staff, Could you tell us what exactly are we allowed to do to the existing listed buildings (Class B &C)? For instance, can we propose a new roof? New openings on walls? Amend the wall finish, colours etc? Ultimately, are we allowed to move or demolish the building if it's necessary as building no.12 is planned to be demolished?

The purpose of the competition is to transform the site by employing thoughtful and creative approaches to adapting the historical buildings to new uses as well as adding new architecture, all while preserving the overall historical character of the area. Therefore, there are no absolute rules regarding what you can or cannot do. The brief contains a thorough description of why the buildings are listed and which elements are most important to preserve. Buildings that can be moved elsewhere or demolished are clearly marked in the brief. Other buildings need to stay, but can be proposed to be relocated within the site if deemed necessary. Please note that the process of moving a building is not straightforward, and it can be challenging.

This site is connected to the following theme

Transforming neighbourhoods and buildings towards an inclusive milieu

A Second Life! is a metamorphosis of a situation. The challenge is to regenerate and to support spaces in need of transformation from a new perspective towards the pre-existences and the hidden treasures that are already there. A new revalorization of all kind of resources – natural, heritage, energy, flows, economy, social… It means to reconsider uses and new proximities linking ecological and social dynamics. How to be attentive and welcoming to differences and vulnerabilities nourished by inhabited milieus facing climate change?

Specific documents

Questions on the site

You have to be connected –and therefore registered– to be able to ask a question.

Fr. 2 June 2023
Deadline for submitting questions

Fr. 16 June 2023
Deadline for answers

Before submitting a question, make sure it does not already appear in the FAQ.

Please ask questions on sites in the Sites section.
Please ask questions on rules in the Rules section.

If your question does not receive any answer in 10 days, check the FAQ to make sure the answer does not appear under another label or email the secretariat concerned by the question (national secretariat for the sites, European secretariat for the rules).