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60 618 Out of House - Nationalteatret- Staging temporalities, circularities and the city

Full course name in Norwegian Bokmål: 
Out of House - Nationalteatret- Staging temporalities, circularities and the city
Course code: 
60 618
Level of study: 
Teaching semester: 
2021 Spring
Assessment semester: 
2021 Spring
Language of instruction: 
Person in charge
Gro Bonesmo
Course content

A strategic building block of an emerging national identity, The National Theatre of Oslo  – also known as the home of Ibsen with the Enemy of State as its opening act – was already too small at its inauguration in 1899.  After discussions of expansion and upgrading since the 1930ies, governemntal support is finally in place and a feasability study on planning and programming is currently in process. The overdue rennovation and rebuilding is set to start in 2022.

As a consequence; the National Theatre will soon be out of house in need of a temporary stage - estimated to last for 6 years or more.

A period just long enough to question; at what point and to what degree can the temporary become the new permanent?

The studio will use this pocket of opportunity to investiate the notions of temporality, circularity and the city.  This new theatre, its position and the public interior as idea and large scale project will be our area of study, experiments and architectural manifestation.  



From Palladios Olympic Theatre to Prices Fun Palace, via Lina Bo Bardis Teatro Oficina and Teatro del Mondo by Rossi. From the classical to the avantgarde, from abstraction to reality, from street theatre and japanese Noh to the technologically advanced,

The evolution of the stage and theatre as archetype, through temporary and permanent models of scenic arrangements and spaces of public display - will be widely studied through historic and contemporary precedents.  

Scenography will be studied as a paralell field of information – setting the stage inside out. The recurrance of plays, reinterpreted through significant yet ephemeral spatial arrangements and manipulations of stage sets - will be evaluated through degrees of temporality and permanence  forming a collective resource bank for our experimental approach to a new stage in the city.

Programming and analysis of needs will take place through close communication and collaboration with the Nationaltheateret.


Located in the axis of the Parliament, framed by the Royal castle and University,  the National Theatre by architect Bull holds a strategic position of the representative layer in the city of Oslo. For its temporary relocation, Tøyen, Filipstad, Vulkan and Tullinløkka is proposed as alterative sites. An evaluation of these options ( and more) related to morphology and role in the city will be seen in a larger urban perspective, including options of transforming existing structures.  


On collectively selected sites, our final resolution will be on the level of a detailed architectural project with clear definitions of program, spatiality, materiality, and structure in a 1:200 / 1:100 drawingsset.

A model, a 1:500 siteplan and an axonometric section of the public interior will be key drawings.

Learning outcome

The studio trains students to develop and design large scale architecture within dense, complex and often contested urban environments. Through quantitative and qualitative research, students will learn to utilize mapping tools to gather, interpret and translate the different historical, political, economic, cultural and ecological layers of the city and distill them into clear and legible architectural schemes. 

The studio focus on developing design-strategies through combining hands on, in-situ knowledge of site and context with curated discussions on specific architectural problems to be specified in the course curriculum.

Ultimatly, the learning outcome of the studio is to equip student of architecture with the tools and knowledge to design high performance buildings with added value for the urban realm, and to develop the skills that empowers architects to take active, leading roles in how urban space - interior and exterior - is developed and shaped. 

Finally, the studio teachers believes that the production of knowledge of an architectural studio inherently is a collective venture, and expect course participants to take active part in course discussions.   

Working and learning activities

Main tools:

Individual work, desk crits and presentations of each assignment will run throughout the semester. A combination of studio work and virtual arrangements will follow AHOs Covid-19 regulations and restricions.

The studio's main working tool is large scale physical models, where architectural design are explored and discussed in context throughout the semester.  If needed due to Covid 19, this will be replaced by digital models.

The methodology of the studio is based on four main topics:

·         The Oslo context, its current development strategies - and patterns and potentials.

·         Emphasis on large scale architecture, in particular the cultural institutions, as new commons and its role within urban planning and development. 

·         Analysis of the sites and possible infrastructural and morphological futures for the area.  

·         Analysis of typological reference projects and organizational principles into synthesis of architectural project. 

Presentations and reviews:

·         Main presentations vary in length and content, from shorter group work assignments to reviews on individual project development. Main presentations are compulsory.

Mid term and final crit will be based on pre defined deliverables /formats and have external critics.

·         Pin ups are group sessions of 4 students or teams, two teachers and 15 minute presentations. 

·         Desk-crits in studio takes place weekly and/or on demand.

Phases and progress

The Studio is divided in phases of research and design assignments that adress specific aspects of the design process, supported by a curated curriculum of texts and documents addressing particular arhcitectural problems and challenges in context of working with complex urban environments. 

Each phase will be organized in group work of two students, with an optional choice of individual project development.

1.phase. The  National Theatre in the city; a critical review of the history and status quo – evaluation process of needs, site options and expanded potentials.

Conclusion: One or more site selections.

2. phase: Research on Theatre precedents, temporary and permanent, local and international contexts, historic and contemporary, scenography and plays.

Conclusion: Programming and organizational principles of the new theatre. Relationship between the permanent and the temporary – and concepts of circularity.

3. phase:  Articulation of coherent architectural projects within an individual specific framework and approach, the development of a limited selection of drawings, and a model in 1:200/1:500 of the student projects, along with a project description addressing the relevance and resilience related to the work produced. 

Conclusion; Final architectural project of the new theatre.

4.  phase:  representation and mediation of the individual projects as well as the studio as a whole in an exhibition, digital or physical.


Conclusion: AHO WORKS



Form of assessmentGroupingGrading scaleComment
Project assignmentIndividualPass / fail
Form of assessment:Project assignment
Grading scale:Pass / fail