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60 539 Sustainable Architecture and Urban Studies

Full course name in Norwegian Bokmål: 
Sustainable Architecture and Urban Studies
Course code: 
60 539
Level of study: 
Teaching semester: 
2024 Autumn
Assessment semester: 
2024 Autumn
Language of instruction: 
Maximum number of students: 
Person in charge
Andreas Kalstveit
Jørgen Johan Tandberg
Required prerequisite knowledge

Admission to master in architecture at AHO and successful completion of three years bachelor level studies (180 ECTS).

Course content

For the past years, the course Sustainable Architecture and Urban Studies has investigated the implications of the green shift on Norwegian cities, towns, and rural areas.

As with any paradigm shift, the focus on greener urban development enforces existing political conflict lines and makes them more apparent. The implementation of a new, green power industry is required for the country to reach its goal of reducing emissions by 55 percent within 2030; yet this typically collides with another international commitment, that of preserving vulnerable nature. Urban living in larger cities has been proven more sustainable due to the minimized transport needs; yet at the same time we need to safeguard communities in the country’s periphery that maintain more traditional ways of living.

The intention of the course Sustainable Architecture and Urban Studies is to study the issues and potential conflicts that arise as the country is changing, and more importantly: to dare to discuss them through architectural proposals.

In Flekkefjord, we looked at how the city could handle a growth of 2000 skilled workers, if a new battery factory was placed in nearby Lista. In Beitostølen, we looked at how the the town could increase the number of tourists while preserving vulnerable nature. In Gjersrud Stensrud, we investigated how new forms of autonomous public transport could facilitate 10,000 new homes in a way that also maintained as much virgin land as possible. In Horten, we looked at how the city itself could absorb the need for new holiday homes in the Oslo Fjord and be revitalized through new jobs and activities in the city centre. In Grorud, we studied how housing areas could be planned to implement new knowledge about sustainable urban freight, limiting the need for large scale transport within a neighbourhood.

 Each semester, we choose a new site and a new theme, typical of the challenges Norway faces in the near future. We develop proposals that are defined by a clear strategic purpose on a regional level, a defined building program that is in actual, realistic demand, a rational, sustainable, and economic means of construction, and a seductive public image. Our role as architects is to bring these things into a higher unity: our aim is therefore to develop strategic building projects that can also serve as exemplars for a new "aesthetics of sustainability".

This semester, we will continue our collaboration with Bane NOR Eiendom, a subsidiary of Bane NOR, the government agency that owns and operates the Norwegian railway network. Bane NOR Eiendom is in possession of all Norwegian railway stations, and is responsible for the development of a large amount of real estate throughout Norway. The course is a collaboration between the Institute of Urbanism and Landscape and the Institute of Architecture.

Learning outcome


-Increased knowledge about sustainable construction, detailing and urban planning.

-Ability to analyze the urban fabric of Norwegian cities, and situate a strategic building project.

-Greater awareness of an architectural project’s impact upon its local context.

-Ability to reflect critically upon the extent of an architectural proposal as an intervention on an urban scale.


- Urban analysis

- Urban design strategies for sustainable cities and rural areas.

- Architectural design

General competence:

-Ability to communicate and discuss Architectural projects and Urban design proposals.

-Ability to develop an individual architectural project.

-Ability to develop architectural drawings and printed material on a high level.

Working and learning activities

We will devise viable and sustainable strategies for the future development of an urban area (TBD), in collaboration with Bane NOR Eiendom and local municipalities. The course is structured so as to educate “generalists” that are Course description of master level course - Sustainable Architecture and Urban Studies.docx 2 : 2 interested in developing a project at all levels: regional strategies, urban plans, building plans and typical details. The output of the course will be both urban plans (overall strategies) and building proposals (exemplary buildings). We will work in phases, from a regional scale to a building detail scale, consulting experts at strategic points throughout the semester. Bane NOR will be involved throughout the semester. There will be desk crits each week, and a final presentation at the end of each phase.

We arrange a study trip abroad to study exemplary building projects and engage with international professionals.

Attendance requirements:

Compulsory supervision 1-2 times a week throughout the semester, and for pinups and presentations. Submission of digital presentation with printed material.

Form of assessmentGroupingGrading scaleComment
Portfolio assessment (Vurderingsmappe)-Pass / failAssessment folder includes presentation.
Form of assessment:Portfolio assessment (Vurderingsmappe)
Grading scale:Pass / fail
Comment:Assessment folder includes presentation.