Diploma 2014: "BYBARNA" by Linn-Heidi Skarpaas

Rethinking the temporary kindergarten

Project description:
The government in Norway stated in 2002 that there would be complete kindergarten coverage for all children across the country within the year 2005. That meant that every municipality were charged with providing thousands of new kindergarten places in a very short time. Barrack buildings as you often see in construction sites were put to this use.

As these kindergartens are planned as temporary solutions, the grounds for where to put them are equally not planned for the long term. They are

often placed in parks and green areas - ready, open spaces - which are normally reserved for the local communities of the city. In Oslo, the temporary kindergartens occupy 35 000 square meters of green recreational areas.

The temporality of these barrack kindergartens can be questioned. The demand for places has only increased since the decision in 2002, and building new kindergartens fast enough is still a huge challenge for many of the big cities. In Oslo, most of these temporary kindergartens have been operating for more than 4 years, and extended their original dispensation at least once, and the six longest operating temporary kindergartens were put up in 2005 - 9 years ago.

Today, there are 33  barrack kindergartens in Oslo, with a total of more than 2500 children. And although these structures are thought of as temporary solutions by the municipality, nothing about the children’s kindergarten experience is. Starting in nursery school from the age of 1, and leaving for elementary school when they are six, they are likely to spend all their kindergarten years in a “temporary kindergarten”.

But: there are is a great number of empty building spaces in Oslo, too. In 2013, there

was an increase in bankruptcies in the retail sector by 30 percent, leaving small community centers within the city “dead”. Adding to this, the municipality of Oslo owns 173 empty and unused buildings around the city.

This project has looked at how these empty premises and surrounding parks and green areas can be one way to solve the issue of temporary kindergartens. By making use of already existing structures within the city center, children and kindergartens can induce activity in these communities - benefiting the city scape as well as the children.

The project is placed in Tøyen in Oslo. In this area, the municipality has planned a large barrack kindergarten barrack on a historic and beloved site for the locals. As an alternative to the plans, I am using empty store locations in Tøyensenteret, and an old nursing home not far away.

The strategy has two parts. The first is to have a moveable indoor base that can be placed within empty retail spaces in Tøyen that will move as soon as the demand decrease or the spaces have found new, more permanent owner. The second part is to use the surrounding neighbourhood and its offers as a daily part of the kindergarten activities. Instead of occupying green areas in the city, fencing it in and placing a large structure in it, small pavilions with just a few facilities are placed around the neighbourhood, making it easier to spend an entire day outdoors for the kindergartens.

With this project I hope to open up for new ways to think of the kindergarten issue; how they can activate areas in the city, and how the city can activate them.

Exploring a new way of solving the need for temporary kindergartens in Norway. As an alternative to the barrack structures used today,  the project is using existing, empty shops and buildings, and using the city as a playground.

All photos: Linn-Heidi Skarpaas 


background and concept for the project


background and concept for the project


Plan drawing: The kindergarten  moved into a vacant store location in Tøyen senteret.


Plan drawing: Example of a base unite, the climatized box. Each department of children will have their own base unite, their “home”, where the belong

Section: Example of a base unite, climatized box.