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Old June 2nd, 2017, 01:06 AM   #1
ELH
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OSLO, Norway

Oslo was a tiny city until the first half of the 20th century. The quantity of pre-modern architecture is thus smaller than in Copenhagen or Stockholm.

Still, if Oslo would take some daring choices, the pre-modern heritage would aid Oslo's overall effort to attain self-respect as "equally Cosmopolitan".

First, the oldest part of the post-medieval city (kvadraturen) should be revitalized (so people actually go experience it) and undergo renovation to shine.

Second, Oslo should seek to develop a classicalist approach to support and emphasize its classical urbanism (like Berlin; Düsseldorf).

Third, taking time as our aid, we should work to increase the popularity of the idea of reconstruction. Oslo has had its share of moronic demolitions.

First, I just want a showplace for Oslos classical architecture. I'll post slow (I believe) so please make contributions!

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Old June 2nd, 2017, 02:43 AM   #2
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I'm not sure it is fair to call the city tiny before the middle of the 20th century. The city as we know it today mostly grew on the backbone of industrialization from the mid '19th century and onwards. This resulted in a growth from a population of less than 10 000 in 1800 to one of around 250 000 at the end of the 19th century, and that was inside the old administrative borders. This was admittedly a smaller population still than both Copenhagen and Stockholm, but it was not that much smaller than Stockholm who had 300.000 inhabitants in the same period and it was much larger than now comparable Helsinki who only had around 90 000 then.

While that is said it was not particularly big city in the period after it was leveled in the great fire of 1624 and until industrialization, which have left the city with little of pre-industrialization heritage to speak of other than a couple of medieval buildings that were too far away to struck by the fire and a few modest renaissance town houses built after it. I also believe it is fair to say that the city have been worse affected by modernistic re-development schemes than the other Nordic capitals and many of the citiys most impressive historic buildings have either gone missing or been badly altered as a result.
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Old June 2nd, 2017, 05:43 PM   #3
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If attempting to introduce Oslo`s history chronologically, the very first point should be the "lost" old town.

This is the old town named Oslo, founded in the Viking times and lasting into the middle ages. It was completely destroyed and a new city; Christiania, was build to replace it right across the bay. The area of old Oslo laid practically vaste for centuries.

Old Oslo looked like this. The church depicted was completed in 1130.


All that is left of old Oslo are "flat ruins" like this one.




This is old Oslo around 1300 (before the recession of the black death).


Since around the millenium, an artificial lake lying marginally higher than todays ocean level recreates the medieval shore line. On the shore side; the since then new, "medieval park".


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Old June 2nd, 2017, 06:15 PM   #4
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After old Oslo got destroyed by fire in 1624, the decision was to rebuild it in the shadow of the fortress - which meant on the other side of the bay. The orange circle shows the fortress before the destruction of old Oslo, around 1300.


Seaside view today


The area beneath the castle to the east is the closest thing Oslo comes to a "standing" old town today. I say "closest thing" because it is no real old town to talk of; buildings from different centuries scattered (mostly with open vaste between them) over an area where parts are still owned by the military and which has no civic, commercial or residential life. There are obviously things that could be done to change the area to the better, however.


To more impressions:




What I´ve never understood is why Akershus fortress is not made into a museum of its historic interior. The interior now, as far as I know is lost and the inner part of the castle left almost as barren walls. A permanent exhibition consisting of a truthful reconstruction of the historic interior could be a valuable attraction for Oslo. The idea is so obvious, why is it being ignored?
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Old June 2nd, 2017, 07:39 PM   #5
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The new city; Kristiania, developing in the shadow of Akershus castle was very small, covering a grid of only few streets (kvadraturen) until past 1800. This map of Kristiania is from 1830.


This is the square (Kristiania torg) from which the new city´s street grid was planned.


The pointing glove symbolizes the political desicion to locate the city here.


Here´s a photo of the southern part of "Kvadraturen" from 1906, before the city changed its name back to Oslo. Kristiania torg is the open square partially covered up by the church on the left edge of the picture.



PS: That historical photo also shows two victims of moronic demolition; the mentioned church (Johanneskirken) on the left edge and the building with a small tower along the same street a little further right. Those buildings are sadly no longer with us.
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Old June 2nd, 2017, 09:08 PM   #6
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Whereas the area between old (lost) Oslo and Kristiana was occupied by the commercial harbour and the central train station, the direction of growth for the city center was westwards.

Vika, the area along the western seashore, grew organically. An extention of the east-west streets of the "kvadraturen area" was then planned, along the axis of the park studenterlunden / Spikersuppa, directly north of Vika. In the map below, Akershus fortress lies in the bottom right corner.


The park Studenterlunden forms the center of many civic and cultural institution and constitutes much of what gives Oslo city center its character. The following three pictures would not be extremely different today, but I choose historic pics to come closer to the transformation of the city back then.




Vika has since been changed from its organically growing form into a planned area which includes Oslo´s present city hall. This historic photo shows a cut-out of Vika before its transformation. The building with the dome was called "circus verdensteater", a cultural venue eventually torn down to give space to the city hall and surrounding, planned city querters.
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Old June 3rd, 2017, 04:10 AM   #7
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If you wish to reconstruct anything in Oslo, then one of the more realistic larger projects is probably Drammensveien 2 that was located next to Victoria Terasse. The building was ruined in a failed bombing during second world war and replaced with a rather mundane modern building post war. There have been plans to convert the whole Victoria Terasse complex (including this building I believe) into apartments for some time, which could potentially open the opportunity to reconstruct the old building. I do believe that the replacement is considered worthy of preservation by the authorities and there have even been a proposals to protect it is a national monument (not sure if it have happened yet), so a reconstruction won't happen without a fight. But a majority of the post-war replacements are under similar protections so that's a fight you will have to take if you want to reconstrunct anything anyway.





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Old June 3rd, 2017, 03:33 PM   #8
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Another possible re-construction is Tollbugata 23 that used to stand in the same city block as the Telegraf building. It was demolished to make way for an extension of the Telegraf building in the mid '60s designed by Nils Holter. Telenor have since moved more and more of their operations out of the building which have been left partially empty for some years now. They conducted a architectural competition a few years back to determine what to actually do with the building. Some of the competing proposals suggested to demolish the '60s extension and replace it with a new-build, so I assume there are no requirement that it have to be preserved. It is also a rather poor fit to both the city and a possible re-development of the Telegraf building as the completely closed, blanket facade makes it impossible to have any stores or anything human-minded there.



The ornamentation was removed at some point in its life before it was eventually demolished ...


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Old June 3rd, 2017, 05:34 PM   #9
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That is quite possibly the best example of what has been wrong with Oslo`s city planning. It is not just disregarding of classical architecture to the favour of modern mediocrity. It even reverses the urbanism of the inner city, since the building has no business socket whatsoever and is monolitic in its lack of windows.

Generally in Oslo, there is a symptom, that the modern architectural period (possibly prolonged by the need of post-war recovery), has disregarded classicist values as if it was something development had moved past and should replace. The problem now, however, is that preservatory authorities tend to idealize the the political management and achievism of those decades before and after WWII.

Thereby, the paradox is that one still condones of past demolitions of classical architectural pieces. Gut ugly replacements of those are still valued higher than the possible reconstruction of what was "semi-criminally" torn.

I don´t know if that´s political, but I hope time will "relativize" the importance of the 1920-1970 phase - and that aesthetics and urbanism will once more take front seat in the city´s development/redevelopment.
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Old June 3rd, 2017, 05:46 PM   #10
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This photo depicts the norwegian parliament (Stortinget). As mentioned above, it is part of the overall city development flanking the park Studenterlunden. It lies in its eastern end.


This is how it looks today, practically identical. The different angles of these two pics let us overlook the flanking buildings on each respective side.


On the north side, Thostrupgården.


On the south side, the free masons.


Frontal image of the parliament.
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Old June 3rd, 2017, 06:38 PM   #11
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I allready contradict myself; that I`d be posting slowly.
As long as post based on pics found in the internet, it`s one thing.
Let`s see how long the spurt will last:
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Old June 3rd, 2017, 06:48 PM   #12
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This pic, posted also above, shows Studenterlunden (most likely seen from the roof of the parliament), with the then new national theater lying inside the park. Some english guy once pointed out he liked how politics and theater are mirroring each other....I agree (we could always need a reminder to take the moral pathos out of politics).


This is the national theater today.


Theatercafee; close up of the building also seen to the left of the national theater in both of the above photos.


Even Studenterlunden has not been spared of moronic demolition. Here`s the statue of Ibsen in front of the theater. I understand how growth pressure could let one want to replace a smaller building - but in my opinion, the architectural qualities of the formerly existing building won`t allow its demolision to be saved from qualifying as moronic.
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Old June 3rd, 2017, 07:02 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ELH View Post
On the south side, the free masons.
This building have also been altered (it have lost the sculpture on the pediment, lost some contrasting bonds and other decorations) and extended with one floor that are set back from the facade. This is how it looked like before:



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Old June 3rd, 2017, 07:36 PM   #14
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For my part, I`ll wrap up the covering of Studenterlunden with another few pics:

The seremonial hall of the university of Oslo:


Stortingsgata at night:


Grand hotel along Karl Johans street, close to the parliament:


I admit, it`s not alongside Studenterlunden, but in my opinion, Oslo`s most over-exposed building is best simply lumped in with its nearby sights ; the royal palace:


Along Karl Johans street; currently the location of Hard Rock Cafe:
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Old June 4th, 2017, 12:34 AM   #15
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Another building it should be fairly easy to re-construct if there is will is the art nouveau Hassel building. The building as such is actually still standing, but the facade have been completely gutted. It was initially built in 1902 to a design by architect Carl Michaelsen. At some point it was extended with one floor. I believe that could have happened around 1910 based on dating on photographs I've seen. It was "re-clad" in 1970 into the brutalistic-style appearance it have today.

The neighboring Dobloug building have also lost the cone spire that used to adorn its roof as can be seen to the right in the first picture.



As a six stories building later in its life ...


Today.
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Old June 4th, 2017, 12:47 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ELH View Post
Along Karl Johans street; currently the location of Hard Rock Cafe:
This building (known as either the Grosch building or the Landkredit building) have actually been significantly altered too, but for once it is arguable for the better or at least equally as good. It was originally built with five floors towards Karl Johans gate and only four floors towards Universitetsgata. I believe the developer wanted to build it with five floors at both ends originally, but they had to reduce the height on demands from the authorities. But I'm not completely sure about that. Nevertheless it was re-built with an extension in a similar design to the original building at some point during the 1970s or '80s.

It is also worth nothing that the white building of Paleet to the right is a 1980s concrete re-construction of the building that used to stand there.

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Old June 4th, 2017, 11:47 AM   #17
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The Vika area, having developed organically even before the planning of studenterlunden directly north of it, got "victim" of a planned transformation (if pre- or post- was better is a close and undecided call, I think).

This is Vika seen before the transformation. Due to the underwhelming dimensions of the shoreside buildings, one had free sight to the royal palace and Victoria terasse.


This is the new plan (white lines) superimposed on a historical aerial photo of Vika.


This is what came in stead. Oslo`s city hall.


Here you see the actual building of the "new" city hall, surprisingly before having torn the seaside city houses.


This is the view from the less photographed front side of the city hall.
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Old June 4th, 2017, 12:12 PM   #18
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This aerial photo shows parts of both Vika and Studenterlunden before the transformation of Vika.
The blue circles mark valuable, lost pieces of classical architecture. The top right building was lost for other reasons than the new city plan. The bottom two buildings were due to the new city planning, yet have also been shown in other posts, above.


This street level photo of the lost "Circus Verdenstheater" has not been shown above, yet is worth a display.


The present city hall is not without architectural qualities. I`m not an expert, but it seems to me the architectural style comes very close to the northern german style of "brick expressionism", mixed maybe with art nouveau elements.


It also has an iconic impact, defining solely the "skyline" of the western part of the central shoreline. It is also where they hand out the Nobel`s peace price, even if I`m personally no fan of that annually staged act.
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Old June 5th, 2017, 12:04 PM   #19
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Till now, I have tried to present Oslo very schemnatically. Off course, that easily turns over-simplifying. Oslo`s city center grew out of kvadraturen gradually, not suddenly and not only westwards, but also northwards.

The citypassage (citypassagen) binds Akersgata and Pilestreder parallelly to Grensen only a few blocks north of "kvadraturen".




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Old June 5th, 2017, 12:42 PM   #20
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Galro first made me aware of this one; another of Oslo`s lost, classical architectural pieces; Rådhusgata 25:


Here`s the pre-/post- comparison:


The present ensamble of buildings has "architectural qualities", so I guess it will be difficult to impossible to have the old buildings reconstructed:


I still would have preferred the former situation to the present:
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