fbpx 60 519 ARCHITECTURE = CITY | Arkitektur- og designhøgskolen i Oslo


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Full course name in English: 
60 519
Syklus 2
2018 Høst
2018 Høst
Maksimum antall studenter: 
Halvor Weider Ellefsen
Om emnet

Housing, we have a problem! Confronted with the harsh reality of the Norwegian housing sector, architects often resolve to the marginal and exclusive to maintain latitude and nurse detail. But what if scale and volume not only represents negative constraints, but constitutes a leeway of architectural opportunity? By translating European large-scale housing concepts, development models and social housing strategies from abroad into Norway, this course will explore housing as an architectural and urban development tool at an infrastructural hub in the center of Oslo.

The first rule about housing: You don´t talk about housing. This course questions the Norwegian housing sector and the architect’s role within it, seeking to explore unveiled potentials hidden in the large scale housing project, and within the constraints of building regulations. It queries current paradigms of scale and volume in housing architecture, and challenge worn mantras of architectural form in the urban core. It believes that a fresh take on housing as typology is necessary, not only in terms of architectural quality, but also because large scale developments by single developers have a substantial impact on urban form and urban life. Ultimately, Social sustainability is a question of housing. 

You had me at “housing”! The course sets out to explore the large housing project as typology, its historical role and impact in European cities, and its current role within urban development in Norway. Learning from more than hundred years of socially conscious large scale housing projects, our point of departure is the housing policies and typologies of Vienna, and its translation into one of Oslo´s future development areas, namely the Majorstuen station site. The forthcoming Fornebubanen demands a thorough restructuring of the Majorstuen station area, where a new underground station will accommodate both the existing metro and a new train station. In its most radical development scenarios, this development could discharge an area of roughly 25 hectares. Such reclaimed real estate would  be an essential asset in financing the new station area for the Ruter company. The studio will thus also address the location and organization of the station area, along with support programs.

I´m not bad. I am just drawn that way. Housing as an architectural problem are among the most basic, yet complex questions of the discipline. As an industrialized commodity, it currently represents the branch of architectural production that is most thoroughly professionalized. Dictated by pre-accepted solutions and executed by a consortium of developers, contractors and brokers, the Norwegian commercial mass housing market is dominated by a few specialized housing producers building big volumes with small margins.  The Norwegian de-regulation of public housing from the mid 1980s and forward also meant that standardized takes of spatial quality, organization principles and functional criteria developed by architects were replaced by an increasingly detailed planning and building act, meant to secure all technical aspect of housing production. Simultaneously, critics argue that regulations are too rigid and complex without being able to secure spatial quality or innovation, producing at best areas of standardized mediocrity.

First we take Vienna… The course holds that different European, and particularly the Austrian take on housing production and urban development as a model that can contribute to inform and discuss the Norwegian housing paradigm, and re-institute the architectural object as point of reference in large scale development projects. Meeting Austrian developers and architects for a workshop in Vienna will lay the ground for formulating a Viennese take on the Majorstuen context, including how these projects are developed in practice. To bridge the gap between the different contexts, we will, in addition to a larger selection of reference projects, accentuate two projects developed by Norwegian architects in Vienna, by respectively Helen & Hard and Malarchitecture. 


The studio will introduce students for large scale architectural design within complex urban environments, emphasizing structure, organization and rationalization as key for understanding and conducting advanced architectural designs in the city. It will envisage the complex interworking between politics, economics and architectural conduct, without over-emphasizing the constraints of building law. Instead, it focuses on the latent architectural freedom of design the large scale offers, and the interrelations between housing as architectural typology, and how the European city currently is shaped and developed.

Praktisk organisering og arbeidsmåter

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

  • The Oslo context, its current development strategies -and patterns, the Norwegian building industry, and historical and current takes on large scale housing in Oslo.
  • The Vienna context, its historical emphasis on social housing and large scale architecture, and the role housing plays in urban design and development.
  • Analysis of the Majorstuen station site and possible infrastructural and morphological futures for the area. 
  • Analysis of large scale architectural reference projects and organization principles.

The first phase of the studio will relate to the site and the Oslo context, including discussions with central housing developers and representatives from Oslo´s building authorities. We will discuss the quality of current housing projects, the social profile of the commercial housing market, and to what extent the need for alternative strategies is valid.

The second phase involves visiting and studying large scale housing projects in Vienna, and meeting local developers and involved architects in some of Vienna´s larger development areas, and formulating an individual approach based on the reference projects studied.

The third phase will focus on the translation of a set of rules and building principles   into the Majorstuen context, formulating an “attitude” towards the station area and articulating a project narrative through model studies in 1:200.

The fourth phase will focus on the development of a limited selection of drawings and 1 individual model that represents the student project, along with a project description addressing a relevant problem or topic related to the work produced.


The responsible studio teachers are practicing architects with broad academic backgrounds that includes PhD’s in the fields of urban development and large scale architecture.

Halvor Weider Ellefsen has master from the School of Architecture at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts and a PhD from AHO. He is currently associate professor at AHO.

Mirza Mujezinovic graduated with a master in architecture from NTNU, Trondheim and Columbia University, New York, and a PhD from AHO. He runs the Office Malarchitecture.  

The studio will encompass a broad curriculum of literature and reference projects relevant for the course, to be announced. 

ProsjektoppgaveIndividuellBestått / ikke bestått1 individual model that represents the student project, along with a project description addressing a relevant problem or topic related to the work produced.
Karakterskala:Bestått / ikke bestått
Kommentar:1 individual model that represents the student project, along with a project description addressing a relevant problem or topic related to the work produced.