"Barcode" in Bjørvika, a series of new buildings, both office space and apartments in Oslo.
"Nordenga" bridge, crossing the railway from Bjørvika to Grønland.
"Kværnerbyen" apartments (that's the creek with stepping stones! I'll have to take a picture myself it seems).
Oslo is halfway in many aspects. We have half a good public transport system, we have half of a good shopping centre, we have a half a green city with parks in it, half of it is dead ends and half is shabby. At one intersection down the street - the road is lined with four different kinds of fences. It never seem to have occurred to anybody to build this city consistently, new bits are just being slapped on without much thought to what was there before, or what surrounds it.
Just like those new blocks that are across our street. They're all modern and square, painted in a communal barn-colour - with as much charisma as a car crash. There are lots of ugly blocks here, including ours, so to say, and they're surrounded by all those delicious wooden houses that are traditional of this area. Some blocks are really nice, and have been done up really well, but most are no. It's all over "old-town", and it's weird that they haven't been able to find some kind of middle-way between unflattering modernism and impractical nostalgia. It just looks weird and half-assed.
Major parts are under construction, and the bits that are not are often quite messy or unfinished as it is. Helge and I took a walk down to Kværnerbyen the other night (literally, night. We were home at 4 in the morning) just to look at the apartments down there. Kværnerbyen is literally a ditch, seriously, it's down in some dent, surrounded by hills, and filled with lots of concrete and roads and trains. It hasn't got a lot of appeal in other words.
The apartments are just blocks of brick, set in concrete - hardly very charming. But then it's not finished yet - and the renderings online look as usual very promising. How they are going to turn the place into what they are imaging I don't really understand. But that's the way with these sexy architectural illustrations, they always contain about twice the amount of trees and happy children to what will eventually exist. There was, however, one nice thing about the area, a constructed creek of water with square stepping stones that went along the east side of the buildings. This sizzled magically, especially at night, when it was so quiet elsewhere. So I really fell in love with that, but the rest still needs a spark of allure - it's hardly very homely there at the moment.
Oslo is really changing though, the buildings along Bjørvika are all really futuristic, so are those on Tjuvholmen. The massive bridge ending in Schweigaardsgate, "Nordenga" is anything but Norwegian, and the new Nationalmuseum at Vestbanehallen will be very modern too. It's called the "Forum Artis", I would tell you what I think of it, but it's really hard to tell from those crappy renders they have released, it does as far as I can tell - look square and angular, so I guess that's why we're going for it. As usual.
But I will stop whining now, sorry. I really hope Oslo will be more whole one day, as it is oddly unfinished right now. We are lucky to have some visionaries who are at least trying to create something better out of what we already have, especially in Bjørvika.