Architechture: Oslo Recoded

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Oslo following many cities worldwide over the past two decades is redeveloping its waterfront, and rethinking the way it approaches the water, now that these areas are required less and less for industrial use.

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The area of Bjørvika, a no man’s land behind Oslo’s Central station is being redeveloped into a new city district. Barcode is the name of this small area of mainly office redevelopment, part of a greater regeneration of Oslo waterfront. It’s a tight space for offices with Oslo’s planning limitations deliberately changed for the area. Higher buildings are allowed, the tallest in Norway, and the planning law was aesthetically subverted too.

‘This is the first plan in Norway where rules are not drawn up regarding each plot, but instead there are rules for how plots within a particular area should be designed in relation to each other. If we design a house with a flat roof, then the next house may not have a flat roof. If we design a glass building, the next house must use a different material.

The Barcode masterplan was conceived by MVRD in partnership with a-lab and Dark. It’s interesting because the master plan imposes change between each new building without defining a particular style, only that it be different from the last. It also uses a modern ‘valueless’ iconography of the barcode to impose some order instead of an architectural aesthetic, a classic reworking of a MVRDV theme. I like that it reverses the normal planning rules and imposes non conformity with the neighbouring buildings to try to create a sense of urban life.

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