25 June 2009

Jarmund Vigsnæs x3

Recently I visited three projects by architects Jarmund Vigsnæs- one being the school where I work and study, AHO. These projects vary in their approach but they are all examples of extending a building's life, both with the existing use and new uses.

Galleri Trafo in Asker, Norway is a 1200 square meter art gallery, formally used as a railroad transformer. The addition to the back houses circulation, clad in corten steel.
The Oslo School of Architecture (AHO) was a complete adaptive reuse of a building from 1938, whose exterior was protected by conversion status. Parts of the original building were taken down to allow for light to penetrate deeper into the space.
The Oslo International School in the Oslo suburb of Kekkestua is a private school with an enrollment of around 500 students from over 50 different nations. The project required 3900 square meters of new structure and 3300 square meters of renovation.

(Image from http://www.archdaily.com/16715/oslo-international-school-jva/#more-16715)
Plan diagram by JVA

The project was divided into three phases to ensure school could remain in session during the construction period. The orange represents Phase One, renovations and additions to the existing structure. This is the portion that interested me the most. Phase Two, in blue, is the new addition and Phase Three (green) is a planned addition for a gymnasium (not yet built). What is particularly interesting about the areas highlighted in orange is the way Jarmund Vigsnæs wove organic forms into the existing rectilinear space.

New, organic shapes protrude into the courtyard, enclosed by the existing facades.
Facade of the existing 1960's building.

The intersection where old meets new.

22 June 2009


I spent the weekend at my roommate Michael's cabin in Larkollen, Norway- about 70km south of Oslo. The weather was perfect and activities included chess, bocce, badminton, Risk, reading, socializing and napping. Needless to say, it was very difficult to leave at the end of the weekend. Ane and Michael have been amazingly generous at sharing the Norwegian experience. I remember reading an article in the NYT a few months ago- praising the Norwegian economy for avoiding the global financial crisis and managing to reduce public spending even in light of all its oil money. This may seem totally unrelated to visiting my friend's cabin, but hang on. The author commented that in Norway there is a sense of virtue- that if you are given a lot you inherently have responsibility. Although government spending is clearly different from the generosity of my friends- it seems to me this is a consistent theme in Norway: virtuousness and general moral goodness. Just a thought.

Panorama of Saturday afternoon.

Keegan & shrimp dinner near sunset.

15 June 2009


I spent the afternoon exploring DogA, Norsk Design og Arkitektursenter (The Norwegian Design and Architecture Centre). http://doga.no/
Originally a transformer station, the building at Hausmanns gate consists of several combined buildings (constructed in 1898, 1917, 1948). Now, the building is a meeting place for design and architecture. There is office space, a cafe & restaurant, exhibition space, meeting rooms, and a shop. I visited this project in the fall but decided to return with my list of questions, mainly: What has made this building adaptable? Here's what I found:

Structure that can be added to and taken away from (taken away here, added to below)

The new steel structure follows the pre-existing concrete structural grid.

Skin that can be added to.

Volume of spaces that allow for a variety of spatial solutions. And serious structure that can be supplemented if necessary.

Choice of materials. This brick has been added to over time. Lack of preciousness here.
This is a reflected ceiling plan in photograph form. Lighting has been simply inserted between the concrete structure.

Location. This collection of buildings is located close to downtown Oslo, adjacent to the river and a pedestrian path.
+ + + + +
Whole building volumes that can be added to.

And I just think this giant door is really nice.

14 June 2009


Today my friend David and I headed up to Nordmarka, the forested region that makes up the northern part of Oslo. I visited Nordmarka in the first hours I spent in Oslo in the fall, sleep deprived from the long flight. It felt wonderful to return and feel so removed from the city in just twenty minutes. We drove along Maridalsveien on the west side of Maridalsvannet, passing droves of cyclists zooming along on road bikes, until the road ended. Here we went for a hike along the waters edge before finding a perfect rock in the sun. It was quiet, with just a few sunbathers and young blond boys out on a fishing trip.

In other news, this was my breakfast today:

12 June 2009

Inhabiting an ever-evolving present

Today I submitted the first draft of my thesis document to my adviser at the University of Washington, Kathryn Merlino- just in time for the end of the quarter. It felt really good to write write write and pull together all the thoughts I've had floating around in my mind and in notes for months. Looking back at the past two months I realize I front loaded my time here with so many great adventures: visiting Blaker, Hvaler, Lofoten and Stockholm. The next few weeks will be dedicated to Oslo and lots of case study visits and documentation

11 June 2009

AHO exhibition

Thesis projects, architecture and industrial design.

Constantin Boincean's thesis project, "Consensus through Dialog"

Ane Tolfsen & family. Ane was honored with the award Professionalism in Architecture. Gratulerer!

10 June 2009

a few of my favorite (Norwegian-ish) things.

Already idyllic scenes made even-more-idyllic by the occasional passing swan.

Children in neon vests.

Public transit.

Children using public transit (if only they were wearing neon vests...)

Happy families clad in bunads.

Baby sized cars.
Solo. Not your average orange-flavored soft drink.

A milk chocolate bar with crushed up pieces of bugles? SOLD.

09 June 2009

Crematorium + Marine Biology :: AHO reviews ::

Over the past few days I've attended several studio and thesis reviews at AHO. Ane Tolfsen's studio, taught by Knut Hjeltnes, designed a crematorium. Later in the week I attended Michael Nordtømme's studio reviews, taught by Neven Fuchs-Mikac with Portuguese architects Aires Mateus. Brothers Manuel and Francisco Aires Mateus are the guest professors and critics. Ane presented in English (after a quick refresher on words like joists and perforated) and the Aires Mateus studio was all in English- this was really great!