This recording is from Hjalmar Branting’s road in the Fyllingsdalen suburb of Bergen, near the Oasen shopping centre and a sports arena. Construction work is predominate, as well as heavy traffic to and from the multiple nearby construction sites.
Fyllingsdalen once belonged to the Municipality of Fana before being bought by the Municipality of Bergen in 1955. Over the following decades, it transformed from country to a suburb with close to 30.000 inhabitants. In 1968 the Løvstakken tunnel was completed, and Oasen shopping centre opened in 1971. The suburb was planned and constructed similarly to The Million Programme in Sweden as the first expansion of Bergen reaching beyond the seven mountains.
According to Richard Harris, the suburban land is “at once transitional and transitory. (…) Suburban land does not just lie between the country and the city, but in the long run each parcel and tract itself undergoes that transition, begging us to view it historically. Guiding that evolution, almost everywhere, is a land market. (…) It is restless markets that make and remake the suburbs.”1
Fyllingsdalen has recently ented a new phase of development and densification. Near the location of the recording, tracks for the new light rail are constructed, running in parallel with Hjalmar Branting’s road towards the Fyllingsdalen Terminal. The sound of construction work heard in the recording originates from several subprojects of this building process. Also, on the other side of the sports arena, the Fyllingsdalen High School is upgraded, and across the main road, several new apartment blocks are under construction.
“Simplifying, the transition from rural to urban has three stages: the periurban, the suburban, and the ambiguously urban.” The historical development of Fyllingsdalen aligns with the above description by Harris. Following initial development in the 1960s and 1970s, the suburb was relatively stable for several decades. By now it has turned into an older suburb marked by both of the tendencies described by Harris that push for redevelopment: “Buildings age, deteriorate and become anachronistic. At the same time, land that is becoming relatively more central – even if one of the relevant centres is itself suburban – becomes more valuable. The logic of redevelopment becomes compelling as new types of users, or old users with new tastes and needs, seek to move in.”2
Development in Fyllingsdalen is an interplay between public and private sectors. The construction of the light rail completes in a few years time. The building of the light rail is controversial in Bergen, financed in large part by road tolls. As documented in this recording, private property developers are already responding to the new emerging opportunities. Urban densification is politically intended, in response to population growth and ecological challenges. But the economic complexity to the ongoing processes is difficult to grasp. Harris wrote his text in the aftermath of the 2007-2008 financial crisis. He concludes with an emphasis on researching the suburban land market: “Making sense of how capital flows into, and out of suburban property, and with what consequences, is the biggest and most important task of all.”3
(Please use headphones when listening.)
1 . Harris, R. (2013). How land markets make and change suburbs. In R. Keil (Ed.), Suburban constellations. Gouvernance, land amd infrastructure in the 21st century (pp. 33–38). Berlin: jovis Verlag GmBH.
2 . Ibid.
3 . Ibid.