Award-Winning Norwegian Architecture Company

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Award-Winning Norwegian Architecture Company

In 2000, two Norwegian architects, Odd Klev and Geir Haaversen, founded A-Lab. They had one main purpose: They wanted to create a fun place to work. Twenty years later, A-Lab has grown into an award-winning Norwegian architecture company of around 130 employees from 20 nations.

The two founders wanted to scrap the traditional «master and apprentice» model and create a different working environment, a process driven office with an enthusiasm and curiosity that bring out the best of all of its heads because it is fun to be at work. They wanted to build a culture where you explore, ask the same questions twice, collaborate across disciplines and push the limits of what architects can do.

Award-Winning Norwegian Architecture Company
«It does not matter where or who an idea comes from, all that matters is the space we create to let this idea flow and the opportunities we give it to grow”, says Julie Sjøwall Oftedal, Head of Strategy and Development and partner in A-Lab.

Related: The Breakthrough of Modernism Architecture in Norway

For two decades, A-lab has been transforming the face of Norwegian architecture. Thanks to its unique culture and its focus on the users of tomorrow, the studio is ready to shape urban change for decades to come.

Award-Winning Norwegian Architecture Company
‘The Wdge’ at Barcode, Oslo. Photo: Ivan Broday.

Kiev and Haaversen initially wanted to design offices for IT-companies but quickly realized they had to expand their field. In 2001, the design of Oslo City shopping mall led to their first award. It was the beginning of a very successful decade for A-lab.

«It does not matter where or who an idea comes from, all that matters is the space we create to let this idea flow and the opportunities we give it to grow”, says Julie Sjøwall Oftedal, Head of Strategy and Development and partner.

Award-Winning Norwegian Architecture Company
Sketch of Science City.

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“We are not an office of ‘big names’,” Sjøwall Oftedal adds. “In many architecture firms, there’s this master figure—a guru who shows others how things ‘should’ be done. A-lab is not like that. Instead, our studio was built to be a place where the best idea is used, no matter who or where it comes from. That’s part of why none of our buildings ever look alike.”

From 2006 on the company had to expand very quickly because it took on two gigantic projects at the same time: the headquarters for DnB (Norway’s largest commercial bank) and the new regional and international offices for Statoil (now Equinor – image on top).

Award-Winning Norwegian Architecture Company
‘The View’appartment house.

Oslo Architectural Triennale 2022 has selected four important urban development projects in which A-lab has a central role: Lilleakerbyen, Oslo Science City, the competition proposals for Grønlikaia and the report on a third housing sector from Tøyen Housing Construction Cooperative, all in Oslo, the capital of Norway.

Now, a natural next step for the studio is to look abroad. “We’ve been busy with competitions in France, and a partner opened A-lab’s first studio in Portugal some years back,” Julie explains. “We’re also now a partner in Include, an international research program investigating the social impact of increasing urban density.”

Related: Spectacular Architecture in the Norwegian Ocean Gap

Award-Winning Norwegian Architecture Company
‘Verket’ by A-Lab.

As such, A-lab might be spreading its wings across Europe, but it’s determined to keep in touch with its core values—and its people. “We do feel that we have something to contribute. But just as importantly, it’s our eagerness to learn that drives us to create something new.”

“We try our best to create exciting areas and building and always add a new layer of meaning to every design project or masterplan,” says Odd Klev.

Award-Winning Norwegian Architecture Company, written by Tor Kjolberg

Feature image (on top): Equinor’s headoffice building, Oslo.