Modern Architecture in Oslo

In 23 March 2021, our expert Ulf Meyer took us for another virtual architectural walk. This time to the far north to Oslo, a truly wonderful city in terms of architecture, nature and quality of life. Being a great connoisseur of the over one-thousand years old city, he presented Oslo as a "Blue and Green, and the City in between." The city is surrounded by spectacular nature with wooded hills on three sides and the fjord in the south. The Oslovians are ‘“natural born skiers”, sail and swim in the sea in summer. Recreation in nature is a vital part of Oslo’s identity.

Cruising up the 80 km long Oslo fjord by ship, the landscape of a giant amphitheater marks the end of the trip. The new waterfront developments reflect the modern city from the view on the seaside. For a country with five millions inhabitants, Oslo is the largest city in Norway with around 650,000 residents in the municipality and a population of approximately 950,000 in the metropolitan area. The great majority of people own an apartment or a house. Oslo is a vibrant city and one of the fastest growing capitals in Europe. Urban life is booming and creates changes in social habits. The low unemployment rate has facilitated the integration of immigrants whose shops and restaurants bring influence on the character of the city.

The early 20th century brought forth a generation of town planners, who understood that “just big enough” can soon become “too small”. The industry that was often based on the hydro-electric power from waterfalls, was a sign of the national reawakening. As the symbol of the citizen’s pride, the new large City Hall in Oslo was planned on the waterfront increasing accesibility for the citizens to the surrounding fjord. In the 1930s, Oslo took up Modernism as a symbol of a new society.

Combined with the need to preserve the old architecture, a major urban renewal of the housing areas from the 19th century commenced in the 1970s. Several wooden suburbs were saved from destruction. The traffic increase led to plans for city highways. However, when many highways were built by the late 1980s, the crossroads were no longer desired as a part of the city structure. The solution was to build tunnels.

The urbanization of the harbour contributed to the increase in residential development. Oslo is a city of short distances with a calm pace. Cultural construction projects such as the opera house in Bjørvika have been completed which make Oslo a destination for the enthusiasts. Every 10 December, Oslo celebrates the Nobel Peace Prize in the City Hall. The city turns into a mature and self-confident European capital. The "in-between", the urban aspect, is now just as valuable and appreciated as the “Blue" and the “Green".