A Residential Village Rises in the Center of Oslo

The eclectic but aesthetically coherent family of blocks was designed by local architect Reiulf Ramstad, who sought to "enhance a heterogeneous social fabric."
P77 79 (2)©rra

Local architect Reiulf Ramstad has designed a series of residential blocks in the heart of Oslo. The homes are constructed out of hand-crafted bricks which lend a coarse texture to the exterior. While each building uses the same brick, various mortar tints are used so that the colors shift with the elements.  Courtesy Reiulf Ramstad Arkitekter

In the historic heart of Oslo, a trio of residential blocks at Pilestredet 77-79 responds to its diverse historical urban fabric with a contemporary diversity all its own. Local architect Reiulf Ramstad blended various housing sizes and “identities” to accommodate a variety of inhabitants. The buildings, which act as a village within the city because they shelter a variety of occupants and living styles, range from four to six floors and encompass 16 living spaces with floor-to-ceiling windows and generous common areas. Duplex apartments under 430 square feet were designed with singles or young couples in mind while apartments from 750 to 1,300 square feet were built for larger families. The solution weaves together a deeply textured social fabric that allows people from different walks and stages of life—young and old, student, or parent—to share a common notion of “home.”

“In all our work, we advocate multiplicity,” says Ramstad. “We believe it is a mark of quality to welcome residents of diverse generations, household make-up, and economic level in order to create a heterogenous living environment and a complex and diverse community.”

Pilestredet 77 79 Reiulf Ramstad Arkitekter Aspelin Ramm Foto: Ivar Kvaal

In plan, this sculptural spiral staircase resembles a question mark. It was inspired by 1920’s blocks and staircases in Italy, where Ramstadt lived and studied for a decade. Courtesy Ivar Kvaal

The blocks sew together the new and old city, serving as a transition between the historical villas, row houses, and apartment buildings of Fagerborg (where, in 2010, Ramstad cantilevered a kindergarten), the affluent shopping district, and 19th-century townhouses of Majorstuen, and the wooden houses around the grassy Stens Park. With differences in form, height, and texture, each establishes a different relationship with the environment around it. The two smallest buildings (P79A and P79B) resemble townhouses and dovetail with adjacent garden-fronted villas. A blunted triangle, the largest block (P77) marks and defines the boundary of Fagerborg.

Inside and out, the project unites tradition and innovation vis-à-vis its forms and materials. The lower facades are simple—almost austere—and serene, while the upper floors share three-dimensional vertical openings and protruding bay windows. The use of hand-crafted brick, which is assembled by hand in patterns and textures that define the identity of the architecture, was a significant part of the design. Meanwhile, in common areas inside, cast concrete walls represent a modern gesture and are paired with warm oak floors, ceilings, and a central spiral staircase that show the project’s more sculptural and hypermodern inclinations.

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Categories: Residential Architecture