Right now, Oslo is one of the most exciting places in the world to be an architect. The city’s transformation started within this past decade – with iconic buildings like the National Opera and the Astrup Fearnley Museum really setting the tone – and continues tirelessly, as many of Oslo’s key museums and state buildings are undergoing a complete makeover. This is what you need to know about the ever-changing urban landscape of the Norwegian capital.
The Barcode Project
Twelve buildings, each designed by different architectural firms, all built at different heights and widths. The Barcode Project in Bjørvika plays with the rules of geometry and perception, while at the same time working well with the surroundings and managing to remain light and airy. When seen from afar, the twelve buildings together resemble, of course, a barcode. However, when you’re near them, they’re just an organic part of the city with houses, offices, a daycare center, restaurants and shops.
Neighborhood makeover: Vulkan, Tjuvholmen and Sørenga
Apart from the Barcode (which is now often called “the city’s new skyline”), there are several neighborhoods that have undergone an impressive transformation over the last couple of years. Vulkan, on the west side of the Akerselva River, is a textbook example of turning a forgotten area of the city into a new hotspot – and the opening of the Mathallen Food Hall certainly helped on that front. This neighborhood is defined by eco-friendly architecture, with sustainable features such as geothermal wells, a solar water-heating system and more. Right by the Oslo fjord, Tjuvholmen is almost like a blueprint of what today’s architecture can be: cheeky (humorous outdoor sculptures), elaborate (at least 20 different architects have worked on parts of it) and with the mandatory involvement of Renzo Piano (who created the Astrup Fearnley Museum). As for Sørenga, formerly an old container dock, it now has a beautiful, green park and a seawater pool, becoming a go-to spot for locals.
Stretching across the tracks of Oslo Sentralstasjon and connecting the area of Grønland with that of Bjørvika, Akrobaten is a 206 meter-long (676-foot) pedestrian bridge made of steel, glass, and pure talent (its cutting-edge architecture has made it a favorite when it comes to movie and photo shoots). Walking on it, you’ll get to marvel at the Barcode Project and all the other exciting developments happening in the city.
You can’t really go inside (unless you work there) but you can admire it from the outside. The new office building of Norway’s largest oil and gas company, Statoil, was completed in 2012 and has received several awards since then. Located right outside Oslo, the building basically consists of five lamellae stacked on top of one other, creating lots of usable space, while only taking up the ground space of what used to be a parking lot.
The airport in Gardermoen recently sized up, adding a 140,000-square meter extension that increased its capacity to 35 million passengers a year. The brand-new train station, that is now an organic part of the airport, conveniently connects travelers with different parts of the country, whereas the 300-meter long (984-foot) skylight brings in some much-needed natural light. Add to that the curved roof (reflective panels and timber sourced from Scandinavian forests) and environmentally-friendly materials like recycled steel, and you have one of the most energy-efficient airports in the world.
The Munch Museum is currently located in Grünerløkka, but that won’t be the case for long. In 2018 it will relocate downtown, next to the Opera House, at a brand-new, L-shaped building that will provide enough space for all the works of the genius Norwegian painter to be displayed properly. It’s scheduled to open in 2020.
The New Deichman Main Library | Courtesy of Atelier Oslo
A library that glows in the dark, changing colors based on the activities and events that are taking place inside? Sounds like a magical place – and in 2018, it will be a reality. The new main branch of Oslo’s public library, Deichman, is currently under construction in Bjørvika and, apart from books, it will also include a movie theater, media workshops, gaming zones, lounges and a restaurant.
The Norwegian government headquarters was damaged during a fatal terrorist attack six years ago – and now it’s time to rebuild. The winning design by the Nordic Office of Architecture and Haptic Architects communicates the Norwegian ideals of transparency, inclusivity and democracy: seven building blocks surrounded by parks, squares, cafés and a visitor center, with restricted vehicle access but open to pedestrians and cyclists, to make this a place citizens would enjoy visiting.
Who says that relics from the Middle Ages, a historic building from the 1920s and a new, futuristic design can’t co-exist? The plan for the looping extension to the Viking Museum is an ambitious one, but it is only necessary in order to allow visitors to fully bask in the glory of the Viking-era findings. The double-height spaces of the new loop will allow visitors to better take in the Viking ship displays, while basically connecting the two ends of the old museum’s buildings, creating a seamless flow. That’s a proper time loop, if ever we saw one.