Kommunenes Hus, Oslo, Norway
RATIO Arkitekter AS

“Kommunenes hus in Oslo – a home away from home - will serve to promote cooperation and deface contradictions between urban and rural municipalities.” These are the words of Crown Prince Olav of Norway 4th of September 1957, when he officially opened the building.With focus on new qualities and by adapting a modern programme into a central, special and important building in Oslo 50 years later, this new home for several employees and visitors from Norway and other countries has got a stronger identity, is effective and therefore survived in the centre of the city.

The structuralistic concrete building very central in Oslo still plays an important role as the embassy for all the Norwegian municipalities. It has recently been through a big transformation to meet modern requirements in functionality and accessibility, exposing the building’s inner life stronger to the outside world.

The 12000 m sq building today contains a new conference centre and offices for The Norwegian Association of Local and Regional Authorities (KS). The main focus and vision for the transformation was to change an introverted building into a modern dynamic house by opening up to the city, bringing in a lot of daylight and profiling the business. Also accessibility by lowering the entrance to the street level, which has been an important step.

The building exterior is an excellent example of Norwegian architecture from the 1950's. The facades are defined as architecturally and culturally valuable, especially the mosaic parts with two big paintings made by the Norwegian artist Alf Rolfsen. The only part we were allowed to change was the façade elements in the structure at street level.

A new big conference room with a pyramid shaped roof in the backyard and two levels on the top on parts of the building is added. An original petrol station beneath the building is included as a new space for dining.

Functionally the main thing was to create new and clear logistics, exploit the unused area in the lower part of the building and to get a better orientation and contact from inside out.

There were few valuable original elements inside to preserve. The philosophy was to create nice new spaces for today’s use, and by adding new design elements in concrete, terrazzo and oak associated to the past bring forward the soul of the building from the 1950's.

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