Oslo is currently undergoing the largest urban development project the city has seen since King Christian IV laid the foundations of the Norwegian capital in 1624.
The district of Bjørvika in central Oslo is about to see extensive renovation and expansion. The project is expected to reach completion in 2035. A sustainable approach has been a central aspect right from the start for this enormous new city district where tens of thousands of people will work, live and socialise.
For many years Oslo’s city centre, at the water’s edge of the Oslofjord, gathered the city’s traditional port industry. Shipyards, loading docks and boat sheds shared space in quarters where machinery was given precedence over people. In conjunction with operations winding down and vacating the capital’s central areas, the plans to redevelop Bjørvika into a thriving city district started to take shape. In consultation with the local population, the city authorities and ÅF Norway have developed the idea for the modern Bjørvika that is now starting to unfold along Oslo’s waterline.
An investment in Oslo’s future
Construction work within the project began back in 2003 and several phases have reached or are nearing completion. Alongside thousands of homes, culture institutions, businesses and offices, a special focus has been placed on the city district’s open areas and public spaces. Several smaller squares and parks have been built and integrated between the modern tower blocks.
Today, some 10,000 people work in an area covering 65 hectares. The modern Bjørvika boasts three kilometres of waterside walkways, the city’s Opera House, the new Munch museum and the new Oslo Public Library. “The contrast compared to the previous generation’s container cranes and docks is striking,” says Geir Lynnebakken, project manager at ÅF and general manager of Bjørvika Infrastructure, continuing:
“The project is massive and has many prominent aspects. But the thing that strikes me most is the sight of city dwellers being able to swim in the bay in Bjørvika.” The former port industry, which started to vacate Oslo’s inner city in the 1970s, left Bjørvika with a depressing history of emissions and a polluted seabed. The project planning included extensive decontamination of the water environment. Aside from ensuring that the water was safe to bathe in, a major focus of the Bjørvika project has been the use of environmentally friendly building materials, sustainable timber choices and energy-efficient alternatives. Many different stakeholders have been involved in the expansion of Bjørvika. ÅF’s responsibility as project manager is very much about the long-term holistic approach. When difficult decisions need to be made, ÅF is tasked with ensuring broad benefits to society rather than individual stakeholders.
Continued work on the city district of the future
Today, about 35 percent of the new Bjørvika has been completed and over the coming years Oslo’s most modern city district will be built little by little. Among other things, the city district will gain 5,000 new apartments and office space for another 20,000 workers.
Illustration: Estudio Herreros