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Oslo is a major wellspring of contemporary architecture. Design firms here are making their mark on the field globally, by infusing Scandinavian traditional materials with the know-how of building, on projects ranging from single family mountain homes to international urban cultural centers. A medieval Viking city that evolved into a major European maritime trading center, contemporary Oslo has a rich design history that draws from its foundations as a center of Scandinavian and Norwegian culture. As a city with a historically large immigrant population, it is also a center of global ideas. The 25 Oslo-based firms selected here represent some of today’s most forward-thinking designers in Europe:
Snøhetta has designed some of the world’s most notable public and cultural projects. The firm sprang into international recognition in 1989 with its competition-winning entry for the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, the new library of Alexandria, Egypt. This was later followed by the commission for the Norwegian National Opera and Ballet in Oslo, the National September 11th Memorial Museum Pavilion at the World Trade Center in New York City and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art expansion. Since its inception, the practice has maintained its original self-defined transdisciplinary approach, integrating architectural, landscape and interior design in all of its projects. Snøhetta has over 200 employees working in studios located in San Francisco, New York, Oslo and Innsbruck.
Reiulf Ramstad Arkitekter is an independent architectural firm with a high level of expertise and a distinct ideology. The firm is focused on interlacing a strong conceptual approach with experience from past accomplished projects. It has studios based in Norway and Denmark. The firm’s projects include Breitenbach Landscape Hotel, a holistic and ecotourism experience in Alsace - perched on the heights of an Alsatian village, the landscape hotel 48° Nord reinterprets the traditional Scandinavian place of retreat and reconnection with wild nature.
LINK arkitektur AS is among Scandinavia’s leading offices of architecture, with a staff of over 450 professional architects, landscape architects, interior designers, engineers and planners. LINK has a wide professional competence and major work capacity, which it has built through projects of many typologies. The firm’s portfolio includes ‘The New North Wing’ a hospital project in Copenhagen completed in collaboration with 3XN: inspired by the lines on a cardiogram graph, the striking form of the North Wing project is shaped as a zigzag, and is intersected by a main ‘artery’ route running through it.
Based in Aarhus, Copenhagen, Roskilde, Frederikssund, Oslo and Stockholm, AART has a team of 300 architects, urban planners, civil engineers, designers and anthropologists. Redefining the notion of architecture is AART's raison d'etre. AART’s aim as a cross-disciplinary practice is to open people’s eyes to the importance of architecture in developing organizations and communities. AART’s project list includes the KLP Building, a landmark for the development of Oslo’s former industrial harbor into a modern and integrated part of the city; it is part of the Barcode Project, forming part of the city’s new waterfront skyline.
Rintala Eggertsson Architects is an office founded by Dagur Eggertsson and Sami Rintala. Eggertsson is an architect with a professional background from a number of the most prominent offices in Oslo; Rintala is an architect and an artist who first established his office Casagrande & Rintala in 1998, which produced a series of acknowledged architectural installations around the world that combine architecture with critical thinking of society, nature and the real tasks of an architect. Rintala Eggertsson Architects has a wide-ranging portfolio that includes projects such as FLYT, a water-based pavilion that is the outcome of an art-in-public-space competition organized to revitalize a former industrial area.
Jarmund/Vigsnæs AS Arkitekter MNAL was established in 1996 by Einar Jarmund and Håkon Vigsnæs. The Oslo-based firm has just under 20 employees and works on a wide range of commissions, mainly in Norway but also in other European countries. The majority of the firm’s finished works are public buildings and housing projects, though it is also involved in urban planning and building interiors. Its project list includes Triangle House, a house situated with views towards the Oslo fjord between the branches of the surrounding pine forest.
Rever & Drage was founded by the architects Eirik Lilledrange, Martin Beverfjord and Tom Auger. The office has carried out several projects throughout Norway, some of them self-built. The office believes in architectural playfulness, boldness and opposition. Both smart yet simple, amusing yet not distinguishing particularly between humor and seriousness, Rever & Drage’s projects are subtly poetic. Projects include ‘Zieglers Nest’, a house built on a steep, small site. In order to provide a moderate footprint and limit the use of concrete for foundations, the building was designed to be tall and slim.
Knut Hjeltnes is a studio based in Oslo founded by the architect and professor Knut Hjeltnes that focuses on housing, cabins and small public projects. The studio’s projects include ‘Single Family House Villa Aas’, a home built on a steep and narrow site with beautiful views towards Oslo and the Oslo fjord. The home is defined by the use of strong natural materials such as wood throughout the interior and Cor-Ten steel retaining walls within the garden.
Helen & Hard was founded in Stavanger, Norway in 1996, and now has offices in Stavanger and Oslo. It is a collective of 26 people from many different countries and cultural backgrounds. Helen & Hard works on a wide range of project typologies and scales. These include individual private dwellings, large mixed-use commercial schemes, public cultural buildings, transformation and urban development projects. In its project the firm engages with and responds to the unique potentials that lie within the local conditions of a place.
Pushak was founded as a joint stock company in 2008. The partners Camilla Langeland, Sissil Morseth Gromholt, Marthe Melbye and Gyda Drage Kleiva have worked together on architectural assignments since 2002. Pushak’s most important work has been won in design competitions, including Vestfold Crematorium, Moss your City at the Architecture Foundation, Rommen Sustainable Housing and the Gateways to Sjunkhatten National Park.
SKAARA has a passion for contemporary architecture with a special focus on environmentally sustainable design and efficient planning procedures. Each new project is approached with a view to achieving a fundamental understanding of a site’s distinctive qualities as well as the client’s requirements. SKAARA’s goal is to find the right balance between simplicity and innovative design. The studio’s portfolio of completed work includes a number of forward-thinking residential and office projects.
SCS is a design-build studio within the Oslo School of Architecture and Design, whose focus is on ‘translations from drawing to building’. The studio’s aim is to expose students to the full architectural process, from interacting with clients to building designs. SCS seeks challenging contexts in which local conditions and creativity are employed to make the most of scarce resources. SCS welcomes proposals for projects from individuals and groups who need buildings to facilitate their community activities.
Atelier Oslo is a young Norwegian architecture practice, established in 2006. It has had success in several architectural competitions including: the recent 1st prize in the international competition for the new central library of Oslo, in collaboration with Lund Hagem and Agence Ter. Lantern, which was nominated for the Mies van der Rohe Award in 2009; and the winning project of the competition ‘Norwegian Wood Sandnes amfiscene’ together with AWP Paris in 2006. Its portfolio includes projects ranging from large housing projects to single family houses. The partners of Atelier Oslo are Jonas Norsted, Marius Mowe, Nils Ole Bae Brandtzaeg and Thomas Liu, all graduates of the Oslo School of Architecture.
A-lab is a young international architecture office based in Oslo working to create the housing and workspaces of tomorrow, as integrated parts of the ‘big city web’. The office was founded in 2000 by Geir Haaversen and Odd Klev, and now has a total of eight partners and 60 architects with diverse backgrounds and experiences. Most of A-labs projects are the result of winning competitions. A-lab works on a wide spectrum of projects of various scales and programs.
Established in 2015, Oslotre is an Oslo based architectural practice and consultancy specializing in timber architecture and design. The name of the office translates from Oslo+wood. It is a vision-driven practice committed to shifting the construction industry towards a greener, more sustainable and timber based future. It is dedicated to designing for a sustainable society by producing healthy and durable architecture in timber using bioclimatic principles and biological building materials. Its cross-disciplinary team of architects, engineers and builders have experience in delivering a wide range of building types including private residential projects, multi-storey residential buildings, office and commercial projects, schools and kindergartens.
Lundhagem is an award-winning architecture and urban design practice based in Oslo. Founded in 1990, the practice remains committed to creating architecture that explores the relationship between nature and humanity. Faced with the dark, cold winters and long, light summers, Norwegians have developed an architecture that combines simplicity with beauty, and humanism with democratic ideals, while remaining closely connected to nature - the resulting design tradition was born out of a belief in humanism, tradition, moderation, handcrafted perfectionism, modesty, quietude and purposefulness. Lundhagem creates architecture, landscapes and interiors inspired by these traditions.
Carl-Viggo Hølmebakk, after studying at the Oslo School of Architecture and at the Cooper Union, worked at the architectural office of the Norwegian State Railways and taught at the Oslo School of Architecture and at the Rhode Island School of Design. He has maintained a private practice in Oslo since 1992. Hølmebakk was nominated for the Mies van der Rohe Pavilion Award in 1996, 2000 and 2009 and has received several Norwegian architecture prizes. His recent work includes the Branntomta commercial and residential buildings in the center of Trondheim, the Visitors Centre at the Bjerkebæk Museum in Lillehammer, and Sohlbergplassen Viewpoint at Rondane Mountain.
R21 seeks to produce architecture that responds to the social, cultural, economic, geographical and environmental context. Its portfolio includes a number of private residential projects completed in Norway, such as Sand Frukt og Bær, a cabin designed as a pavilion on a Norwegian farm. The pavilion maintains the same footprint as an earlier annex building and reinterprets the building to satisfy modern demands; its design newly speaks the language of nearby existing projects using local materials and building methods.
Jensen & Skodvin Architects was established in 1995 by Jan Olav Jensen and Børre Skodvin. Starting with four architects, the staff has grown to 13. The main objective of the practice is to realize ideas in the form of built work while contributing to the development of the tectonic culture of the architecture profession. The partners have upheld academic activities, including research into different tectonic fields of architecture, as well as being the founding editors of the book series asBUILT which has published 25 books, each documenting buildings with a complete set of working drawings.
With offices in San Francisco and Oslo, Mork Ulnes Architects approaches projects with both Scandinavian practicality and Northern California’s ‘can-do’ spirit of innovation. Rigorous and concept-driven, the practice is based on built work characterized by both playfulness and restraint, and informed by economies of means and materials. Mork Ulnes Architects has worked on projects ranging in scale from masterplans to 100 square-foot cabins, and have realized buildings on 3 continents. Mork Ulnes Architects has been the recipient of numerous national and international honors, including Architectural Record’s 2015 Design Vanguard award.
Manthey Kula Architects is an Oslo-based office founded by Beate Hølmebakk and Per Tamsen. It has a diverse range of completed projects such as Jektvik Ferry Quay, a small service building at the Jektvik ferry terminal, located a few kilometers from the Arctic Circle. Besides meeting pragmatic functions - a waiting room and two restrooms – the project developed to become a study on transparency and translucency, being in the northern part of Norway which is characterized by dark winters and light summers.
Element is a creative studio challenging the borders between architecture, design and art. The firm has an interdisciplinary approach and collaborates with cutting-edge partners. Innovation is sought through early collaboration between professions, and is considered crucial in order to challenge today’s solutions. In Element’s projects art and custom-designed furnishing are an integral part of the finished result. The studio’s focus on environmentally friendly and energy efficient solutions requires a higher initial investment, but in the long run yields positive financial and energy premiums.
Space Group is an architecture and design office based in Oslo directed by partners Gro Bonesmo, Adam Kurdahl and Gary Bates. With a team of international architects, Space Group’s approach to architecture and urbanism is straightforward, effective and process-oriented. The partners in Space Group are involved in every aspect of each project. The office believes in intense collaboration, working closely with clients to find unique solutions and strategies.
Espen Surnevik is an architect and teacher at the Institute of Architecture at the Oslo School of Architecture. His studio was founded in Oslo in 2011, and its projects are developed in collaboration with his students. Surnevik focuses on innovating and continuing the Norwegian regional architecture tradition: projects which have intuitive and specific links to a place, its traditions and its landscape. The studio develops projects where construction and space have a unity of program and functions. The projects are often planted in a historic context, which is seen as an opportunity to tell a story of both today and of the past.
Archimatika was founded in 2005 and has offices in Oslo and a headquarters in Kyiv, Ukraine. A team of architects, engineers, designers, and innovators, Archimatika specializes in the design and planning of large residential and mixed-use development sites as well as planning of whole city districts.