Helge Garke

The Remains of Eden

The Remains of Eden

I was interested in exploring how residents in recently completed residential neighbourhoods in Oslo react to the density of their surroundings.

Due to the nature of the construction industry, external space is increasingly reduced to a minimum. Fulfilling only the legal requirement for sunlight admittance and quota for shared external amenity, space between individual building volumes has been reduced to the bare minimum. Furthermore, what little space remains is largely designated to certain functional requirements such as waste collection and access for the fire department. These considerations result in smaller and tighter private terraces, themselves often directly adjacent, and exposed to, public paths and streets.

For me, these terraces represent the last surviving remnants of the traditional garden around the detached house. 

This photographic project became a documentary of these private terraces. 

The windows indicate both how inhabitants choose to shield or expose themselves to surrounding public areas, while reflections in the glass indicate the nature of the space onto which they face. 

I document these terraces during winter and early spring, largely exposed and void of natural foliage. Given that people are absent from the photos, one can only guess at how the terraces are used by paying attention to details. In this way, the project can be considered a forensic sociological study. 

Seeing these terraces makes me wonder:

How much privacy do people need?

Where is the threshold between too much / too little exposure?

How much emphasis should be placed on human needs when designing dense cities?

How much room for privacy (individuality) does our modern society provide?

How much control - physically and virtually - do people accept?

What planning solutions – and physical distances - are necessary to enable contact between private and shared space without hindering privacy.

Do currently prevailing conditions give people the opportunity to take possession of their own space?

The desired degree of privacy varies from person to person; where is the threshold?

Using Format