MS & SS
Finally MS has made it over to visit SS in Oslo! On the first day while exploring the city MS wandered into a graveyard on a beautiful hill with dramatic views over the town centre. Further up on the hill a tall, massive and yellow housing development came into view. So instead of admiring the touristic view MS was drawn to the towers and balconies and spent an hour clambering around this housing project from the 1930s.
When we met later MS was excited to show the photographs and discuss the finds of the day. As a happy coincidence SS had discovered the building several months ago, and had already visited to document the project a few weeks previous. The housing is situated on the outskirts of Oslo Sentrum and was built in the 1930s over a 9 year period by Victor Schaulund. It has since been listed by the local authorities. Sitting atop one the largest hills nearest the centre, it commands a dominant position in the urban landscape.
The scheme composes of 4 blocks arranged in a hexagonal plan, somewhat reminiscent of a medieval fortress. This formal heaviness is juxtaposed with the lightness of the façade treatment, and the elegantly placed protruding balconies. Without any physical barriers the positioning of the 4 blocks creates a semi-private courtyard, which is open to the city. Passing through you feel like a visitor and behave accordingly. Despite its solidity, the spacing between the blocks infers a certain permeability of view and offers the outsider a route through.
We began to discuss what it was that had drawn us both to this project so strongly, and decided to return to the project together to further explore and take more detailed photographs. Both of us are currently working on housing projects in our respective offices, and we were discussing the inevitable choices that have to be made in terms of costs. Often you are restricted by a developer’s budget and priorities… Here we have an example where expensive materials are used sparingly and strategically. In key places more expensive materials, such as natural stone and glazed tiles have been employed (notably the places most exposed to human contact). The rest of the complex has been homogenised with render and simply painted. Even part of the stone plinth is realised in a rough and textured render – the material quality of the stone is borrowed in this cheaper material.