Mounds of white stone dot the lengthy path into the Bungenäs peninsula in northeast Gotland. This was once the largest limestone quarry on Gotland before it became a military training ground in the early 1960's.
Today though there's no hum of heavy machinery or artillery blasting. It's very quiet. As we finally come upon signs of civilization our impression is one of slightly unsettled delight. It's a little eery here at first. It takes a moment to put the scene into context.
Idyllic buildings from the early 1900's, recently restored, sit in an industrial landscape. Old rustic signs point the way to contemporary art exhibits and inviting restaurants nestle in among the original oven stacks.
It turns out that Skälsö Architects has been commissioned to turn the deserted peninsula into a place where people will want to visit and live, and they're going about it in an interesting way.
Instead of working to disguise the cratered land with its 100 or so concrete bunkers and steep quarry edges, they're embracing it just as it is. A total of about 150 residential home plots have been selected and developed to blend into the surroundings with low, ground-level buildings in concrete or wood, recessed windows to minimize glare, and a muted color palette of gray, brown and green.
The old factory area that's just been restored with its general store (ca 1928), ovens (ca 1910), limestone barn (ca 1910), and dining room (ca 1944) will continue to develop as a central gathering place for the community and visitors. Most intriguing of all, the area will remain largely traffic-free. Hopefully that means it will still feel worlds away, years from now when the plan is complete.
Some nice before / after pics of the job architects Eric Gardell and Daniel Heilborn faced are here.