Olso Opera House LayoutOlso Opera House Design

Oslo Cityscape Architecture


Oslo’s cityscape is being redeveloped as a modern city with various access-points, an extensive metro-system with a new financial district and a cultural city. In 2008, an exhibition was held in London presenting the award-winning Oslo Opera House, the urban regeneration scheme of Oslo’s seafront, Munch/Stenersen and the new Deichman Library. Most of the buildings in the city and in neighbouring communities are low in height with only the Plaza, Postgirobygget and the highrises at Bjørvika considerably taller.

Oslo’s architecture is very diverse. Architect Carl Frederik Stanley (1769–1805), who was educated in Copenhagen, spent some years in Norway around the turn of the 19th century. He did minor works for wealthy patrons in and around Oslo, but his major achievement was the renovation of the Oslo Katedralskole, completed in 1800. He added a classical portico to the front of an older structure, and a semi-circular auditorium that was sequestered by Parliament in 1814 as a temporary place to assemble, now preserved at Norsk Folkemuseum as a national monument.

Christiania, in 1814 promoted to the status of a capital city, had practically no buildings suitable for the many new government institutions. An ambitious building program was initiated, but realised very slowly because of a strained economy. The first major undertaking was the Royal Palace, designed by Hans Linstow and built between 1824 and 1848. Linstow also planned Karl Johans gate, the avenue connecting the Palace and the city, with a monumental square halfway to be surrounded by buildings for the University, the Parliament (Storting) and other institutions. Only the University buildings were realised according to this plan. Christian Heinrich Grosch, one of the first fully educated architects in Norway, designed the original building for the Oslo Stock Exchange (1826–1828), the local branch of the Bank of Norway (1828), Christiania Theatre (1836–1837), and the first campus for the University of Oslo (1841–1856). For the University buildings, he sought the assistance of the renowned German architect Karl Friedrich Schinkel.

The German architectural influence persisted in Norway, and many wooden buildings followed the principles of Neoclassicism. In Oslo, the German architect Alexis de Chateauneuf designed Trefoldighetskirken, the first neo-gothic church, completed by von Hanno in 1858.

A number of landmark structures, particularly in Oslo, were built in the functionalist style, the first one being the Skansen restaurant (1925–1927) by Lars Backer, demolished in 1970. Backer also designed the restaurant at Ekeberg, opened in 1929. The art gallery Kunstnernes Hus by Gudolf Blakstad and Herman Munthe-Kaas (1930) still shows influence from the preceding classicist trend of the 1920s. Oslo Airport (by the Aviaplan consortium at Gardermoen was Norway’s largest construction project ever.