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Tøyen Love - Bottom Up

Enhancing already existing social structures using storytelling across established boundaries

Short description:
Creation of an informal meeting arena in a public city space, mainly targeted for a geographically small area, but open for everyone.

Bonfires and storytelling have been parts of human history for thousands of years. Everyone have experienced something that which can be interesting for other people. Many people like to tell stories, and even more like to listen.

Idea and aim:
Enhancing already existing social structures using storytelling across established boundaries. In other words: Creating a meeting arena in a public city space where people can share stories and interact across cultural, ethnically, age and other boundaries, we believe people can get together, talk more, learn to listen, establish trust and create a better society and increase the positive reputation of the geographical area and the people living there.

For whom:
Primary for people living, working or visiting a geographically defined area.

The concept:
A permanent bonfire site in the middle the plaza at Tøyen senter in Oslo, Norway, where people who for any reason are in the area. The public space is situated in the middle of Tøyen, and is surrounded by stores, residential buildings and office buildings. The buildings around the plaza makes a naturally confined city space. The fire will be either fueled by natural fuel like wood, coal or LPG, and/or by using a cold flame-like device creating the same effect as having a real fire. By creating this space, and letting everyone and anyone sit down to share stories, listen and interact, people can learn more about each other, establish trust and create a better community.

The need for the concept:
We interviewed 10 people in the area, some who lived there, some who worked there and some passing through. Some first said they did not have any stories, but as we started talking with them and asked a few questions we observed that they quickly realized they also had stories to tell. Most of the people we have talked with said they either wanted to tell stories, or listen to stories, or both.

Getting the municipality of Oslo to be responsible for the structural creation of the area and the maintenance. Cooperation with established local resources such as people working at the library, the local security guards, people working at local shops and the hair dresser, to dedicate part of their time to facilitate the concept, tell stories and be the fuel for the local story telling.

The stories can be anything and everything. Stories from daily life, travels people have made, experiences and stories from books, fairy tales and more.

As far as we have learned, there is currently a new wave of families with young children moving to the area. During the jam we also observed that people at the plaza does not interact much with each other across established boundaries. This is also the same observation that one of the project participants have observed daily from his living room window looking at the same plaza for 10 years.


Adrian Paulsen
Ana Golub
Eskil Hadland
Riche Vestby

Creative Commons Licence