Citizen participation in Steinkjer: Stories about the "old NRK building at Lø"
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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This paper follows the process of developing a pilot project at Lø in Steinkjer, where a zero emission neighbourhood was planned and which included the upgrading of the old offices of the Norwegian Broadcasting Company (NRK) to a zero emission kindergarten. The decision-making process up to March 2018 is described. When the decision to demolish the NRK building and build a new kindergarten at Lø was made, stopping plans for a ZEN pilot project. The decision was based on the wishes of representatives from two kindergartens who were to be co-located in the planned zero emission kindergarten. The paper asks why two different understandings of the needs of the project were established and proposes solutions for avoiding disaffection with projects with high energy and environmental ambitions during the early stages of the development process. Method. An ethnographic process was carried out by the Research Centre for Zero Emission Neighbourhoods in Smart Cities (ZEN Centre) in collaboration with Steinkjer Municipality in Norway in 2017 and 2018. The process included participant observation, individual semi-structured interviews and group interviews. Results. During the planning process, the representatives from the kindergartens experienced that they were not heard, and that the needs of the building users were peripheral to the discussions taking place. When the chairmanship of Steinkjer Municipality took the decision to demolish the old NRK building and build a new kindergarten at Lø, the kindergarten representatives finally felt that user needs were in focus. The process is presented and discussed in the form of two main stories. (1) The citizen's story about the kindergarten at Lø, where the kindergarten representatives' reasons for their request for a new, rather than upgraded kindergarten building, are told. (2) The story about the ZEN pilot project in Steinkjer, that is external, and concept based. In this story, the reasons for the enthusiasm for the pilot project by Steinkjer municipality and ZEN researchers are explained.