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60 614 Architecture = City

Full course name in English: 
Architecture = City
60 614
Syklus 2
2019 Vår
2019 Vår
Maksimum antall studenter: 
Halvor Weider Ellefsen

Opptak til AHO og fullført tre års studier på bachelornivå (180 studiepoeng).

Om emnet


This studio focuses on the redevelopment of Gallery Oslo, a large structure developed in the early 1980s by LPO architects. The plot owner Oslo Areal estimates the redevelopment to comprise around 120.000 m2, and has invited five offices to develop proposals for the area, that will be revealed February 1st 2019. The Studio will collaborate closely with Oslo Areal, and use the proposals as a point of departure for critical examination of the area. Based on these discussions, Architecture = City: New Commons aims to develop a set of new and diverse proposals that explores the area and structure from different angles and approaches. 


Galleri Oslo is being demolished. As Norway’s most hated building, few have voiced support for preserving the building.  Rather, it has been regarded as a very very long mistake, that both in terms of volume, program and economical strategy thoroughly failed almost as soon as it was completed. 

However, looking into the competition won by a group of architectural students in 1982, we can understand the scheme better: The structure was originally part of a selection of unique building types tailored towards specific functions, within a «grand narrative» for the downtown core: The configuration included a large urban living room (byhall) where the population could meet (later Oslo Spektrum), A slim tower were visitors could stay (later Oslo Plaza), a mosque catering for spiritual needs in the multicultural city (never realized) , a perimeter housing block with a pedestrian street blending in to the adjacent city (later Smalgangen), and finally: A wall of infrastructure and commerce «protecting» its architectural siblings from the infrastructure and industry south towards Schweigaards gate and the harbor.  This became Galleri Oslo – A climatized shopping street and office structure connecting the station area with Grønland and integrating Oslo’s new bus terminal. 


Today the premises have changed: The redevelopment of Oslo S and the completion of Bjørvika/Bispevika, the spatial and programmatic division between the consolidated city of  an its  infrastructure no longer bear relevance. Quite on the contrary: Space Group’s main argument in their winning scheme for the Oslo S area was that the east west axis at large today was replaced, or at least is complimented by a north-south axis from the harbor to Vaterland. And while a blessed few argues for its conservation, the building is here neither seen to represent the cultural value, or representative of an architecture that needs to be preserved based on its architectural qualities. 

Rather, seen through the optics of the late 20th century political economy, Galleri Oslo manifested the euphoria of the 1980s property market, turning into an economical disaster as both shopping centre and real estate investment strategy. Similarly, its spatial concept, much relying on the increasing importance of Schweigaardgate as Oslo’s main infrastructural vein, was soon outdated by the time of its completion. These factors, together with the removal of the bus station and opening of the Akers Elva river, means that time is up for Galleri Oslo. However, a redevelopment that utilizes parts of the existing structure in new configurations can be a part of the studio’s discussions. 


From an architectural point of view, the larger urban scheme developed by LPO displayed how and urban plan can be driven by an emphasis on the architectural object's role and performance within the urban morphology of the city. From the perspective of political economy, this also coincides with the emphasis of the «project» as basic unit in urban planning - From now on, urban development was «project-based», where the architectural object became the center-piece in new development schemes for the city. Similarly, the studio aims towards articulating strong architectural statements that perform according to the complex infrastructural, spatial and programmatic context of the Vaterland area.   

The Studio will focus on developing robust, multi purpose building structures and organizational schemes with emphasis on "new commons" for the city. Such commons include new indoor and outdoor public facilities (sports, leisure, education) that utilizes the potential inherent in the massiv infrastructural hub of the Oslo S area. The course aims to articulate large and complex but precise architectural proposals that can contribute to broaden and shed light on possible futures for the property, and present alternative strategies for urban development of the area. 


The course will collaborate with plot owners Oslo Areal and Akershus Fylkeskommune, and an inhouse review of the invited competition proposals will be held in February as they are revealed, to kick start our design phase. Thus, the studio will both maintain an approach that discuss and develop the area autonomously within the studio framework, while simultaneously being informed from the events and development processes of the actual sites and involved actors. 


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

Main tools:

The studio's main working tool is a large 1:200 physical model, where architectural design are explored and discussed throughout the semester.  

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.
  • Emphasis on large scale architecture, and its role within urban planning and development. 
  • Analysis of the Galleri Oslo site and possible infrastructural and morphological futures for the area.  
  • Analysis of large scale architectural reference projects and organization principles. 

Presentations and reviews:

  • Main presentations take place on Wednesdays. These sessions vary in length and content, from shorter group work assignments to individual project development critiques. Main presentations are compulsory.
  • Pin ups are group sessions of 4 students or teams, two teachers and 15 minute presentations. 
  • Des-crits in studio takes place weekly and/or on demand.

The first phase called the “vase phase” is initiated by a two-week study where we conceptualize and explore the site through massing studies, and discuss the morphological and programmatic interfaces between architecture and city. What densities, what typologies, what kind of distribution? And what kind of spaces, programs, infrastructure and their distribution should be can be applied to create added value for the city? This phase is includes an assignment called Units and Commons where we approach our preliminary design structurally and programmatically in scale 1:500. Simultaneously, as the invited competition proposals are reviled, the architects and architectural project will be presented and discussed in studio. 

The second phase of the studio will relate to the site and the Oslo context, including discussions with relevant developers and representatives from Oslo´s building authorities. We will discuss the quality and profile of current strategies for downtown development, conducting a due diligence of the properties and discuss first responses from the individual students. Are there morphological, phenomenological, programmatic or typological features of particular interest in site and adjacent areas? And are there alternative narratives to the current mode of development defining Oslo’s central areas?

The third phase involves visiting and studying large scale complex structures in a city TBA, meeting local developers and architects, that will contribute to revise and inform the studio’s individual projects.

The fourth phase will focus on articulating a coherent architectural project within an individual specific framework and approach, the development of a limited selection of drawings, and a model in 1:200 of the student projects, along with a project description addressing a relevant problem or topic related to the work produced. 

Depending on amount of course participants, projects will be developed in groups of two students.


Curriculum: Tba.


Course responsible associate professor Halvor Weider Ellefsen. Ellefsen has a master from the School of Architecture at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen and received a PhD from AHO. 

Wenche Andreassen works at ReBuilding, and office focusing on architectural transformation. She is former junior Partner at Space Group, with extensive experience from the  conceptual layout and development of large-scale archtecitural schemes. 

Professor Gro Bonesmo is partner of Space Group with substantial knowledge and experience of urban development of the Oslo S area.

Professor Karl Otto Ellefsen is former dean of AHO, professor in urbanism AHO and boasts extensive knowledge of urban development and transformation-processes in city centers, as well as being a core actor in the discussion and development of Norwegian Architecture for several decades.  

Additional resources includes Lars Haukeland of LPO, original founder and architect of Galleri Oslo, with competence of large scale architectural development and urban planning from over 30 years of practice in the Oslo area, and architect and planner Øystein Grønning of Migrant, the plot owners representative in the development process of Galleri Oslo. ​


Vurderingsmappe-Bestått / ikke beståttThe course has individual hand-ins related to each course phase. These are mandatory submissions that are part of the project evaluation. The final phase includes developing an individual model in scale 1:200, ande a small selection of representative drawings
Karakterskala:Bestått / ikke bestått
Kommentar:The course has individual hand-ins related to each course phase. These are mandatory submissions that are part of the project evaluation. The final phase includes developing an individual model in scale 1:200, ande a small selection of representative drawings