Top 6: modern architecture in Oslo

Oslo is famous for its modern architecture. Spread throughout the capital, you’ll find groundbreaking new buildings, showcasing postmodernism, minimalism and Scandinavian design. Here are 6 must-visits if you’re interested in modern architecture:

1. New Deichman Library 

In Spring 2020, two new cultural attractions will be opening in the fjordside area of Bjørvika. The first is the brand new public library, Deichman Bjørvika. Located next to the Oslo Opera House, it will be the biggest public library in town, and will include restaurants, and splendid views across the water and the city.

The library will also house the secret manuscripts of the Future Library Project. Each year, one author is asked to write a novel which won’t be published before in a 100 years’ time. Meanwhile, the trees for the books are growing in the Nordmarka forest north of Oslo, and the manuscripts are hidden here. Some famous authors who have already contributed are Margaret Atwood, David Mitchell, Sjón and Karl Ove Knausgård.

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Almost finished: the new Oslo Public Library (photo: NRK)

2. New Munch Museum

Also in Bjørvika, right behind the Opera House, the brand new Munch Museum will be opening its doors in Spring 2020. Previously situated in Tøyen, the whole museum will move into this big silver tower, standing in the water of the fjord like a monolith. At the top floor, there will be a bar with spectacular views over the city centre.

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Almost finished: New Munch Museum (photo: Munchmuseet)

While here, make sure not to miss the Sørenga area (with cozy bars and restaurants next to the water), and the impressive architecture of Barcode (a line of office blocks designed by Dutch architects).

Akrobaten pedestrian bridge and the Barcode project
The Barcode Buildings (photo: Thomas Rousing)

3. New National Gallery

In early 2021, Oslo will see the opening of its new National Gallery. It will be located next to the City Hall on Aker Brygge, and will be the biggest museum in the whole of Scandinavia. Designed by a German architect, the building uses Norwegian stone and marble as building materials. It will house some of the greatest Norwegian paintings of all time, including work from Munch, Krohg and Balke, and international artists like Monet, Cézanne, Rodin and Picasso.

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The New National Gallery (photo: MIR Kommunikasjon, Statsbygg / Kleihues + Schuwerk)

4. Tjuvholmen Island

This brand new neighbourhood on the Tjuvholmen island in the fjord, is one of the best neighbourhoods to walk around in and marvel at the possibilities of contemporary architecture. Originally the site of a shipping wharf, the plan was to build a new neighbourhood, based on the windling streetplans of older European cities. The buildings are placed in different angles, so as to allow maximum sunlight for the inhabitants. Make sure not to miss the Astrup Fearnly Museum of Modern Art, designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano. We especially recommend the café, which is a lovely place to sit by a window and look out over the fjords and islands.

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Tjuvholmen (photo: Tobias Mandt)

5. Vulkan 

For years, Vulkan (“Volcano”) was a grim and deserted place: an abandoned factory on the banks of the Akerselva River. Recently, it got a serious face-lift, and is now one of the most exiting corners of Oslo. The original factory building is now home to Mathallen, Oslo’s first and best food hall. Check if they have live music at café Smelteverket, in the cellar of the hall. Around the hall, you’ll find modern buildings housing bars, rooftop restaurants, a fitness, an arts school, and Dansens Hus (“House of Dance”), where you watch performances in contemporary dance. On the other side of the river, you’ll find a gigantic corn silo now turned into a big student house, and a beautiful path following the waterfalls of the river. This area really is an errupting vulcano.

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Mathallen (photo: John Lord)

6. Opera House 

Last but not least, we cannot forget Oslo’s biggest icon of modern architecture: the Opera House. Designed by Norwegian architect firm Snøhetta, it has been one of the most beloved attractions in the Norwegian capital since its opening in 2008. It’s white marble exterior and cracky surface is meant to remind you of a glacier, decending from the Ekeberg Hill in the background, into the water of the Oslofjord. Enjoy the views from the roof, and make sure not to miss the interior of the building as well: it’s a true ice palace.

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Interior of the Oslo Opera House (photo: Henning Klokkeråsen)

While in Oslo, stay at our HI Oslo Haraldsheim Hostel! 

Text by Robin Van de Walle

Photo top: Interior of the Opera House by Jean-Pierre Dalbéra

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