Dwellings in the Barcode. Image vs quality.

The barcode project’s architecture aims a powerful image as well as diversity and complexity. These concepts fit well the program for companies’ headquarters and businesses but not so much for housing.

In my visit to the Lund Hagem nearly finished housing building, I noticed some disappointing features. First, the aim to sell an image rather than a home is evident since the moment I walked in.

There’s the curious phenomenon that the closer you look to the building the least interesting it gets. The façade has this hypnotic rhythm from afar, so that it seems to merge with the sky. However, being “in between” the façade, in the balcony, the ambience is not that interesting or comfortable. The detailing seems aloof to the users with its cold flying metal sheets and concrete flooring. Of course, it doesn’t help that the entire neighbourhood around the building is under construction, compromising the view from the apartments for the next few years.

The rooftop terraces have this unreasonably complex drawing, with predetermined paths and excessive furniture. Besides, this rooftop space between extremely tall buildings feels, quite frankly, overwhelming in my experience.

On the other hand, in the Sørenga area the buildings are low-rise with an unifying sense of the design, fitting the traditional urban solution for housing complexes.

The low-rise makes everything feel immediately more comfortable, also because of the floor entrances and courtyards.

The views are even more impressive than in the Barcode, and the rooftops have a very simple design leaving the decision on how to use the space to the dwellers.

I understand that the Barcode is quite experimental and it is fundamental to the evolution of architecture that these experiences take place. My critique is directed to the complexity for the sake of complexity and the image-oriented architecture, which quite prevalent and concerning issues in contemporary architecture. The quality of the architecture depends on how the picture is framed, and its my belief that, especially when housing is concerned, comfort and quality of living should be prioritized.