published in sb 6/2018
Come in and have fun
Streetmekka is a new cultural destination offering a wide variety of facilities for self-organized sports like parkour, skate, bouldering, basketball, trial and a series of customized workshop areas for music production, DJ’ing, an animation studio, fabrication lab and various artist studios and wood- and metalworkshops. Architecture firm Effekt has transformed an abandoned windmill factory into a vibrant hub for street sports and youth culture.
Social spaces and informal meeting areas are distributed throughout the building and strategically interwoven between primary functions based on the notion that proximity to activities lowers the threshold for participation.
Breathing new life into abandoned industrial buildings
The original building once served as a windmill factory and is a typical example of one of the many mass-produced warehouse or factory buildings from the late 1960s and 70s found in almost every suburban industrial zone in the western world. Constructed from prefabricated concrete panels or corrugated steel, these industrial leftovers are perceived as having little or negligible historic, cultural and architectural value.
Instead of taking the traditional approach and demolishing the leftover building, Effekt wanted to explore how to reuse and re-programme this type of insignificant and mostly introverted building typology in a qualitative way and with a very limited budget.
With many vacated industrial sites being incorporated in urban expansion, this approach may be replicated and can pave the way for the revitalization of many other disregarded buildings left to deteriorate or facing demolition. New neighbourhoods can benefit from these industrial heritage markers to build identity and sense of place.
Individualized and self-organized alternatives
The functional goal of Streetmekka is to create a series of functional spaces for sports, cultural and social purposes arranged in a highly complex programmatic network. The aim is to meet the increasing demand for self-organized and individualized alternatives to established club sports and cultural activities.
The cultural centre is run by Game. The organization aims to attract local youth and create lasting social change through street sports and culture, enabling integration and empowering them in their future lives.
Growing new communities
New Streetmekka 2.0 is for everyone. It does not matter if you want to participate, create, hang out or watch – there is a designated space for everything and everyone. The idea of expanding the original programme to include so many different types of activity under the same roof is based on the notion that co-existence breeds new synergies and new social relations. Additionally, it exposes visitors to new types of activity they might never have realized existed, encouraging future engagement.
The maker labs and workshop areas enable users to continuously develop and reconfigure the facility. Streetmekka Viborg is not static in terms of programme or in physical appearance. It will continue to evolve with users – both short-term (due to the animated façades and street-art) as well as long-term (when new programmes are added and old ones removed).
The architectural concept is based upon the idea of an indoor streetscape. The project opens the introverted industrial building and transforms the impressive central factory space into a new kind of interior space: a covered streetscape open to the outside. It measures 3,170 m². The streetscape concept is used to define and organize the various functions and place them in relation to specific requirements, such as spatial quality, daylight, materiality and temperature zones.
The new volume is then wrapped with a functional translucent polycarbonate skin, giving the appearance of a light and welcoming building while also serving as a giant canvas for local visual artists to display and project their art while also clearly differentiating the building from the surrounding industrial facilities. Streetmekka in Viborg is the first lot to be transformed in the new neighbourhood and will work as a catalyst for city life in the upcoming area.
The surrounding landscape stretches over 2,000 m² and becomes the natural extension of the indoor surface with various street sports and cultural functions placed in a recreational string of greenery connecting the site to the downtown area through a future pedestrian and bicycle path.
The preservation of the original structure and the reuse and upcycling of materials made it possible to carry out refurbishment at very low expense. Many of the original components were also repurposed as furniture elements for the parkour activities and hang-out spaces. The final cost of the building is approximately one third of that of a traditional sports hall. The project is funded with support from Realdania (a philanthropic association) and the Danish foundations Lokale- & Anlægsfonden, TrygFonden and NordeaFonden.