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 Nybyen

 
Nybyen ( New Town)
Address: 9170 Longyearbyen
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Architect: Jacob Olav Hanssen
Client: Store Norske Spitsbergen Kulkompani A/S
Construction System /
Materials:
Woodwork; half-timbering; concrete
Building Type: Workers housing; mess halls; baths; shop
Year of Construction: 1946 - 1948
Nybyen was built in the years 1946-1948 as a specific part of town for mining workers, with housing barracks, mess halls, baths and a shop. Its situation was determined by the need for proximity to the pithead of mine 2B at the top of Longyeardalen (Longyear Valley). The only area suitable for building here was a narrow belt of tundra between the sediment at the foot of the mountain and the alluvial plain. The buildings were therefore placed in two parallel rows on either side of an extended street area. This follows the shape of the valley from south to north on a gently sloping terrain.

The construction consists of 11 buildings, of which six are large housing barracks for the workers, plus female workers' quarters (Jomfruburet), a workers' mess hall (Stormessa), a foreman's mess, a baths with a laundry and lamp-house, and a shop. The buildings were placed functionally, so that the workers who came down from the mountain on the mining lift could go straight into the baths to change their clothes, then up to the mess in the next-door building and on up to their quarters. All the communal quarters, and probably the housing barracks as well, were designed by the architect and painter Jacob Olav Hanssen, who also designed a specific part of town for office workers further down the valley, and the town meeting house. A seventh housing barracks was set up by Block-Wathne in 1957. The baths were pulled down in 1991 and replace by a new housing barracks in 2005. All the buildings were later painted in greyish-black colours, echoing the colour range of the mountainsides around. They followed the colour plan for Longyearbyen that was agreed by the mining company in 1981.

The group of buildings, together with the open-air mining site in the mountainside and the cable car, today form a visual entity that tells of working systems and lifestyles from earlier times. Mining activities here ceased in the 1960s and the buildings are used today primarily as student accommodation and tourist lodgings.
Literature: Løkken, Gisle: "Fra tundra til småby - utviklingen av Longyearbyens bebyggelse" in Thor B. Arlov (ed.): Store Norske 75 år; Longyearbyen 1991, pp.111-125.
Sellæg, Wenche Frogn, Visjon møter virkelighet. Estetikk i Longyearbyen - en arktisk utfordring, Bergen 2009
Publisher: The University of Tromsø, 01.07.2010
Author: W.F.S.
Photographer: G.S; W.F.S.



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