According to MVRDV’s diagnosis for the Oslo Architecture Triennale in 2000 the Oslo region is “an endless sea of small and mediocre urban elements”. Low-rise, low-density, green: Norwegian urbanism is distinct in several ways from its European and northern neighbors.
While the Garden City is articulately English and the car-centric planning is associated with the USA, the most distinct feature of Norwegian urban planning is the connectivity with nature. Due to a social democratic governance in the postwar era, among other things, Norway strictly protected scarce agricultural land and promoted individual ownership of dwellings. So, when there has been developments of centralization and urbanization in European countries and all over the world, Norwegian urbanism remained XS, leaving fragmented and porously settled areas as well as low-density and low-rise cities.
In our winter-issue about Norway, Marianne Skjulhaug and Peter Hemmersam take a closer look at the history of Norwegian urbanism and discuss opportunities and challenges of such a sparsely populated country.