Contemporary Oslo, the capital of Norway, has an annual population growth of circa 2% and viewed in a Norwegian perspective, it is growing faster than any other city. The growth since the 1950s has made suburban Oslo a Klondike for architects.
Kalbakken – typical 1950s
A little gem of a fifties idyll. Low buildings and duplexes in wood. The blocks are placed in fine clusters around lawns and playgrounds. The architecture is typical of the 1950s; hushed, sober and rock solid. Kalbakken’s “cultural” center is found at Old Nordtvedt hard. The welfare state’s core buildings are closely collected; homes, schools, community centers and sports facilities.
Bøler – almost annoying successful
The architects Jens Selmer and Preben Krag (high-rise buildings), Sverre Fehn (community hall), Helge B. Thams (artist colony Trolltur) and USBL (low rise blocks) have ensured a varied quality suburb. The high-rise buildings in Bølerlia were rewarded with Sundt Prize for Good architecture for 1956-1957. House-seeking policemen took shovels into their own hands and built the white concrete blocks for the Police self-building committee.
Romsås – enthusiastic planning
Romsås is a politically correct seventies dream in the forest edge, with a little school, a community center, a courtyard, walkways and a private pond. Cars had no access, and it was like a southern village in the middle of a Norwegian spruce forest.
Architects: Romsås team, supervised by Alex Christiansen and Alf Bastiansen
Sinsen – Brick stones from the 1930s
With its 2,600 homes and 75 commercial premises Sinsen is a small town. Between 1935 and 1939, functionalistic visions of detached blocks in parks were materialized. It is functionalist idiom, but old-fashioned plan. Functionalistic houses came after the war. Sinsen became a park town just outside the city limits; modern urban residences with bathroom, WC, central heating and electric stove.
Stovner – quirky, large and many blocks
Architect Olav Selvaag was long considered a loose cannon in urban development and was a tireless advocate for rationalization and simplification of the construction process. Terrace blocks and pyramidal blocks are legitimate children of Selvaag. Selvaag had no high star among architects, and his terrace houses will hardly have an important place in architectural history. But when they appear in flocks, they get a peculiar monumentality.
Lindeberg – prefabricated village look
USBL’s yellow and red low-rise blocks and townhouses from the 70s provide a rough but not brutal combination of brushed and painted concrete. Lindeberg is like a small car-free village with low terraced houses and walkways that meander through the area. The outdoor areas have higher priority than before, and at Lindeberg not a single sandbox is left to chance.
Aarvoll – tough little USBL
On Årvoll’s major development area in the 1950s, USBL left craftsman-building in favor of industrial housing production, and masons were replaced by cranes. The blocks were not built by brick stones, the old fashioned way, but consisted of factory-produced wall elements. USBL was a pioneer, many years ahead of its big brother OBOS.
Mortensrud – cool environment friendly housing
OBOS’s box houses In Mikkelgrenda are low-energy housing. Functionalism has always been more than an idiom. In the interwar period it was all about taking the environmental challenges seriously, and it was easier to save power in a compact, cubic building than in a crow’s castle.
Bjørndal – country romance in the city
In the 1990s pine furniture and latticed windows were the big thing, also in the suburbs. In Bjørntun condominium at Bjorndal , OBOS built romantic, rustic small houses in red panel. Trash houses with storehouse bells are undoubtedly a new element in suburban Oslo.
Suburban Oslo, written by Tor Kjolberg
Feature image (on top): Groruddalen from the air, by Lasse Tur