The COVID-19 pandemic has redefined the waywe use our public spaces, and revealed just how important they are to us. Studio Ossidiana—an architecture, design and research practice led by Alessandra Covini and Giovanni Bellotti—responds to this shifting reality with this year’s summer installation at ArkDes. Utomhusverket 2021 creates a place for outdoor gathering in the centre of Stockholm.
Fragment view of 'Studio Ossidiana: Utomhusverket 2021' (2021). Drawing by Studio Ossidiana. Courtesy of ArkDes.
The installation is the latest in an ongoing series of projects outside the museum, experimenting with the public spaces of Skeppsholmen – a cultural island in the heart of the Swedish capital. Conceived as an “archipelago of activities,” Studio Ossidiana’s installation is a celebration of the potential of public life. Presenting the practice’s unique approach to the handbuilt craft of concrete casting, the project imagines new forms of public space that invite us to sit, relax and read, play and perform, meditate and more.
Construction process of 'Studio Ossidiana: Utomhusverket 2021'. Still: Kyulim Kim. Courtesy of ArkDes.
Construction details of 'Studio Ossidiana: Utomhusverket 2021'. Image: Kyulim Kim. Courtesy of ArkDes.
Alessandra Covini and Giovanni Bellotti (Studio Ossidiana) say:
We have envisioned a collective platform for encounters between people, plants, birds, and minerals. The project is designed as a vast garden-map, within which we reimagine the public realm as a stage for agricultural and urban rituals to unfold. It’s a place where domestic and territorial scales overlay, making room for intimate moments and public performances alongside symbolic and earthly experiences.
We want to show ways in which public space can be an arena for action; a place to transform, cultivate, and curate. We believe that humans and non-human life are more than mere “users”: we are explorers, gardeners, lovers, collectors, cartographers, and more.
The projects consists of a landscape of civic encounters. The ground is made up of a composition of shells, loam and gravel that intersects with a central water pond. Studio Ossidiana continue:
These ground elements combine to create new soils that can be shaped by digging, walking, lying down, playing, and more. The planted pond itself offers relief from the summer heat to both water birds and people. Tall perches, designed for migratory birds, cast shadows onto the ground. A sundial marks the passing of time, all the while its mass radiating the captured heat of the sun. An enclosed garden offers shade, shelter and berries to the birdlife of Skeppsholmen. Finally, handcrafted terrazzo “rocks” afford opportunities for play, display, gathering, and intimacy.
Map of 'Studio Ossidiana: Utomhusverket 2021'. Drawing by Studio Ossidiana (2021). Courtesy of ArkDes.
Utomhusverket 2021 by Studio Ossidiana will be augmented by family workshops and a public programme of activities throughout the summer. Visitors are invited to come and sit in the sun, read a book, have lunch or a fika at Café Blom, paddle in the pool, or take the time to birdwatch. The project will be open 24/7, allowing everyone to make the most of the bright early mornings and late Nordic light.
Kieran Long, Director of ArkDes, says:
We want Skeppsholmen to be developed into a beautiful, cultural public space in the centre of Stockholm. The pandemic has made us think hard about how we share the city’s spaces, and we all need to be able to take part in inspiring cultural experiences in a safe way. This is the third time that ArkDes has invited talented architects and designers to create a new outdoor project on Exercisplan, and we are proud to be presenting Studio Ossidiana in 2021.
James Taylor-Foster, Curator of Contemporary Architecture and Design at ArkDes and curator of the installation, says:
Utomhusverket 2021 challenges preconceptions about public space, and foregrounding its capacity to make room for civic agency and joy. The world of encounters that Studio Ossidiana have created offers a new lens on what it means to share and spend time in public – with others, with nature, and with our surroundings.
Utomhusverket is ArkDes’s annual summer outdoor installation. With each commission, it stitches the spaces of the museum to the streets of the city by way of a large-scale outdoor installation, creating a testing ground that makes room for architects and designers to imagine new possibilities for public life. Each iteration seeks to demonstrate the potential of inclusive and design-driven public space, enabling individual and collective action in the heart of the city.
In 2018, the association Dansbana! built a public dancefloor outside the museum, which remained for the summer of 2019. In 2020, Australian artist Linda Tegg built Infield, which turned the space outside the museum in to a living meadow.
Exercisplan at ArkDes. Photo: Louise Helmfrid
Studio Ossidiana is an architecture, design, and research practice based in The Netherlands, founded in 2015. Led by Alessandra Covini and Giovanni Bellotti, the studio works to blur the boundary between architecture, design, art, landscape, and urban strategies. Playfulness, tactility, and inclusivity thread their projects: stories are told and objects are brought to life through materials and spaces that call for action, discovery, and wonder.
Studio Ossidiana and Coco in Rotterdam. Image: Kyulim Kim. Courtesy of ArkDes
Studio Ossidiana: Utomhusverket 2021 will be open to the public twenty-four hours a day and seven days a week between June 4, 2021 and October 10, 2021. A public and education programme accompanies the installation.
The installation will launch alongside a documentary film that reveals the process and ideas behind the project. The film will be available to watch from June 4, 2021.
Utomhusverket 2021 is curated by James Taylor-Foster (Curator of Contemporary Architecture and Design, ArkDes) and produced by Johanna Fogel (Producer, ArkDes). The project is realised by Nord Skateparks AB and Tomaello BV in collaboration with Studio Ossidiana.
Build Coordinator: Johan von Geijer
Production Assistant: Elisabet Norin
Graphic Identity: Oskar Laurin
Production (Public Program): Elisabet Schön
Educational Program: Jakob Kjellberg, Madeléne Beckman
Film Production: Performing Pictures (Geska Helena Brečević, Robert Brečević) with Kyulim Kim, Daniel Donato, Hugo Johansson
More information can be found on arkdes.se.
ArkDes is Sweden’s national centre for architecture and design. It is a museum, a study centre and an arena for debate and discussion about the future of architecture, design and citizenship.