Housing, we have a problem! Confronted with the harsh reality of the Norwegian housing sector, architects often resolve to the marginal and exclusive to maintain latitude and nurse detail. But what if scale and volume not only represents negative constraints, but constitutes leeway of architectural opportunity? By translating European large-scale housing concepts, development models and social housing strategies from abroad into Norway, this course will explore housing as an architectural and urban development tool at an infrastructural hub in the center of Oslo.
I´m not bad. I am just drawn that way. Housing as an architectural problem are among the most basic, yet complex questions of the discipline. As an industrialized commodity, it currently represents the branch of architectural production that is most thoroughly professionalized. Dictated by pre-accepted solutions and executed by a consortium of developers, contractors and brokers, the Norwegian commercial mass housing market is dominated by a few specialized housing producers building big volumes with small margins. The Norwegian de-regulation of public housing from the mid 1980s and forward also meant that standardized takes of spatial quality, organization principles and functional criteria developed by architects were replaced by an increasingly detailed planning and building act, meant to secure all technical aspect of housing production. Simultaneously, critics argue that regulations are too rigid and complex without being able to secure spatial quality or innovation, producing at best areas of standardized mediocrity.
The first rule about housing: You don´t talk about housing. This course questions the Norwegian housing sector and the architect’s role within it, seeking to explore unveiled potentials hidden in the large scale housing project, and within the constraints of building regulations. It queries current paradigms of scale and volume in housing architecture, and challenge worn mantras of architectural form in the urban core. It believes that a fresh take on housing as typology is necessary, not only in terms of architectural quality, but also because large scale developments by single developers have a substantial impact on urban form and urban life. Ultimately, Social sustainability is a question of housing.
You had me at “housing”! The course sets out to explore the large housing project as typology, its historical role and impact in European cities, and its current role within urban development in Norway. Learning from more than hundred years of socially conscious large scale housing projects, our point of departure is the housing policies and typologies of Vienna, and its translation into one of Oslo´s future development areas,namely the Majorstuen station site. The forthcoming Fornebubanen demands a thorough restructuring of the Majorstuen station area, where a new underground station will accommodate both the existing metro and a new train station. In its most radical development scenarios, this development could discharge an area of roughly 25 hectares. Such reclaimed real estate would be an essential asset in financing the new station area for the Ruter company. The studio will thus also address the location and organization of the station area, along with support programs.