Article: GEOPARK | Stavanger, Norway

* Written by Vicente Iborra, Iván Capdevila (PLAYstudio).

Helen & Hard, by means of this park, show us how to build a place in the town of Stavanger with cultural and educative values. Children, parents and youngsters play and celebrate the everyday in a park that takes the figured form of the most important gas reservoir in Norway and which provides Stavanger with its richness and identity. On the other hand, the citizens themselves, as a result of a participation process, decided the park’s different uses. Construction elements coming from the oil industry were used to shape its final image.

This way, our dear and admired friends Helen & Hard‘s Geopark becomes a whole example of integral sustainability.


“As the base for Norway’s burgeoning oil industry, Stavanger quickly became a knowledge hub, attracting specialists from around the world. We have sought to synergise the expertise and material resources of the offshore industry with sustainable urban development in many projects, most notably in the Geopark, a playful urban space on Stavanger’s waterfront.

Utilising a vacant forecourt adjacent to the Oil Museum as the site for the new park, we drew from three different local resources in the design process: first, the geological and seismic expertise of the oil industry, second, technology and materials (including waste) related to the production of oil, and third, the ideas of local youth groups for the programming of the new park.

An initial intention was to give a tangible experience of the oil and gas reservoir Troll, by far the most valuable field on Norwegian shelf, which is hidden 2000 – 3000 metres below the seabed. The topography of the park is based on the geological layers, the “strata”, of the Troll field, reconstructed in a scale of 1:500. This “geo-landscape” was further developed in an experimental sequence:

The first phase was a digital manoeuvre, where the 15 geological layers were partly peeled away and thus exposed creating a park sloping towards both the sun and the centre of the square.

The second phase focussed on workshops with youth groups during which the functions of the sedimentary layers were programmed for activities such as biking, climbing, exhibition, concerts, jumping, ball play and chilling-out. The layer containing the oil of the Troll field, including its drilling wells, became a skating park, while geological folds were used as exhibition walls for graffiti and street art.

In the third phase, the surfaces and installations were created using recycled and reshaped elements from petroleum installations, the abandoned Frigg oil platform, offshore bases, equipment suppliers and scrap heaps.

The park is used by kids, parents and youths at all hours, turning the formerly abandoned site into a humming social meeting point. The park was originally planned for a temporary period of one year, but there is an ongoing discussion to make the park permanent.”

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