New plans unveiled for state ministries

Norway’s complex of government ministries in downtown Oslo, known as Regjeringskvartalet, was heavily damaged and partially destroyed by a right-wing terrorist’s bomb in 2011. Plans have been underway ever since to recreate the heart of state government, with the latest proposals now going on public display. A jury will choose two of the following seven projects put forth by local architects, with the winner to be chosen by state officials after concrete negotiations.

The competition is anonymous, so neither the jury nor the public will know which architects are behind which proposals. They’re presented here (and have gone on display on site at the July 22 Center) in alphabetical order after their project names, starting with “Adapt.” It literally adapts art by Pablo Picasso, which adorned the damaged buildings, into Adapt’s high-rise replacement of the former low-rise Y-building, which is to be controversially torn down.

Here’s a bird’s-eye view of the Adapt project, featuring environmentally friendly buildings with grass on their roofs. That’s a feature that also shows up in other projects, which some critics have already claimed are remarkably similar. All are built around the former Office of the Prime Minister known as Høyblokken (center, without a grass roof), built in 1958 and later expanded. It survived the bombing, has attracted widespread public support and will be preserved, with most plans calling for several additional floors to be added on top of it. To the right of Høyblokken is the existing Ministry of Finance, which also survived the bombing and has remained in use.

seen from YoungstorgetThe “Akersryggen” project, seen here from the square known as Youngstorget that’s situated behind the government complex, features five large ministerial office buildings. As in several of the other projects, they all feature large expanses of glass and can be up to 20 floors high. Høyblokken, which will once again house the Office of the Prime Minister, can be glimpsed in the background.

“Kiming” is the name of the next project, which also envisions adding several floors on to Høyblokken, with a public park in the foreground. It also features glass buildings to house the ministries that now are scattered around town after the bombing forced them all to move to new locations. The park plan also envisions closure of the street that’s always run through the complex, Akersgata, so that pedestrians can wander freely.

The “Lysning” project features lower buildings, allowing Høyblokka to once again dominate the government complex. This view is also from Youngstorget, which plays an important role as a gathering place for everything from demonstrations to Christmas markets and speakers on Labour Day. The historic building in the foreground was the long-time central police station in Oslo at Møllergata 19.

“Rakrygg” also features a public park adjacent to an extended Høyblokka, and another illustration of how Picasso’s art will be incorporated into the buildings. That was a requirement from politicians and the state property agency in charge of the whole project, Statsbygg.

The “Sekvenser” (Sequences) project bears some resemblance to Norway’s Opera House, with a low-rise building to the left of Høyblokken that also will allow people to walk on its roof. In the background is a series of high-rises for the various ministries. The Justice Ministry is likely to move back into Høyblokken along with the Office of the Prime Minister.

Finally, a night-time interpretation of the “Vidsyn” (Wide Vision) project, with five ministry buildings running along the complex’ backstreet, Grubbegata, and, again, more floors added on to Høyblokka. The darkened models at lower left represent the existing Ministry of Finance and Supreme Court building. Youngstorget is depicted by the open space at right. Once a project is selected, construction is expected to take around 10 years before all the ministries are completed.

Read other news on the city site of Oslo.

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