Oslo, A City For People

Marek Minor
7 min readAug 11, 2016

Last week I visited Oslo, the capital city of Norway, with my fellow designer friend Jana Papierniková. Growing up in post-soviet Slovakia and living in its capital Bratislava, a city that forgot about its pedestrians, where governing garniture builds parking spots upon Celtic monuments, where a cultural hub with such a cultural heritage as Cvernovka is being demolished and now is being cancelled, I’ve always wished there are some better places for people to live.

Oslo tops lists of best cities to live in as well as being among the most expensive to live in. I’ve always wanted to visit the Scandinavia, and I had to see it for myself. Let me share some of my memories with you.

Oslo Opera House

Imagine walking through a square until you find out you are literally walking on the roof of a building, with a gorgeous scenery around you. That’s what it feels like visiting Oslo Opera House, the home of The Norwegian National Opera and Ballet, and the national opera theatre, no stairs attached (there are some small steps, as I realized walking down the building, so I would advise you to be cautious).

The building was made by Snøhetta, an international architecture, landscape architecture, interior design and brand design office based in Oslo.

Oslo Opera House
Inside the Oslo Opera House
View form the Oslo Opera House. You can see the city is being built right now.

The Barcode Project

The Barcode Project is a collection of buildings, built on former dock and industrial land, near the Oslo Opera House. These buildings vary in height, and they resemble a barcode, therefore the name.

The area felt very fresh but kind of detached. I’ve learned that this project is among the most protested in Oslo. It has been described as a barrier between the coast and the rest of the city that will destroy Oslo’s character as an open, low-rise city with a lot of green spaces. There were some pretty nice bike racks, though.

Sørenga

Sørenga is a former container port made into a luxurious urban district. It’s made to be a residential area but also an attraction for visitors. I loved the architecture, the colour palette, and the wood & bricks combo. The southern part of the district is also a public swimming place, called Sørenga sjøbad.

Paleet Shopping Centre

We have found this place by chance. It’s a stylish shopping gallery, located on Oslo’s main street, Karl Johans gate. The visual identity was made by Neue Design Studio, a cross-disciplinary design studio from Oslo.

Some slick sliding door animation

Ekeberg Park

Just about 10 minutes from the city centre, there is a park called Ekeberg. Walking there, I admired the scandinavian architecture of ordinary houses.

According to official information, the Ekeberg area was purchased by Oslo Kommune around 1930, to preserve an open recreation area, near the town, for the people of Oslo. The area of park was not developed, but conserved as Oslo’s largest area of ancient monuments from pre-Christian times.

Officialy, it’s a park, but I would say that it’s a forest. We’ve seen blueberries, raspberries and rose hips along our way. And this place is just filled with art. Walking through the park, you’ll see the pieces of The Chapman brothers, Damien Hirst, Marina Abramović, Salvador Dalí, Louise Bourgeois, Jenny Holzer, Gustav Vigeland, Auguste Rodin, and many others.

Astrup Fearnley Museum Of Modern Art

Astrup Fearnsley is a privately owned contemporary art gallery, located in Aker Brygge area of Oslo. It was designed by the architect Renzo Piano and the shape of the building resembles a ship and sails. The whole area was a beautiful sight.

Bygdøy

Bygdøy is a peninsula on the western side of Oslo, that serves as a home for five museums — The Kon-Tiki Museum, which houses exhibits from the expeditions of Thor Heyerdahl, The Norwegian Museum of Cultural History, The Viking Ship Museum, The Norwegian Maritime Museum and The Fram Museum. I have to admit, those were some of the finest museums I’ve ever been to.

Fram Museum

This museum houses the Fram — a ship that was used in expeditions of the Arctic and Antarctic regions by the Norwegian explorers. Basically, you can go inside the ship and see everything for yourself.

Kon-Tiki Museum

Kon-Tiki museum houses ships and maps and various items from the expeditions of Norwegian adventurer Thor Heyerdahl. I read every description in this place and I left left inspired and amazed. Thor Heyerdahl was the kind of a man who would sail 4,948 miles from Peru to Polynesia on a prehistoric raft to prove a scientific fact, which he did.

Borders? I have never seen one. But I have heard they exist on the minds of some people. — THOR HEYERDAHL

As 56 years old, he built a boat from papyrus to cross the Atlantic Ocean. Now that’s what I call amazing. The boat was sailing under the flag of United Nations and the crew consisted of men from various corners of Earth — Norway, USA, Italy, USSR, Mexico, Egypt and Chad. He said that being in the middle of the ocean, alone with the crew, the borders and skin colors just vanished — they were all just humans.

Back Home

I realized I am back home looking through the window of a taxi back from airport. Looking through the window I saw a billboard promoting some clothes store that depicted a woman wearing a traditional niqāb with a slogan that said “Don’t be ashamed” in a condescending way. I wouldn’t say it’s insulting but I’ve found it kind of inappropriate and narrow minded.

Tolerance towards all other cultures is something that belongs to the mature society, because for other people, we also are those different people. There is nothing like an ultimate way of life and therefore we should not be afraid of being different, hate it or make fun of it, but embrace and celebrate it.

That’s what I liked about Oslo. Seeing different people from all around the world talking in their beautiful languages, walking and resting in open space areas designed for them, close to the nature, in tolerance and peace. That’s the city everyone would like to live in.

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Marek Minor

Designer, programmer, casual illustrator and system thinker at Bakken & Bæck. Building GamesWatch (https://gameswat.ch/). http://marekminor.work