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A New Crater of Modernism in Downtown Oslo

Nb! This article contains several errors both for localizations and the use of different buildings, and major projects are not mentioned. I'll try to fix this later. Meanwhile I'll not recommend reading this article, but going straight to the new interactive map of all the upcoming projects of downtown Oslo, which is to be found here.

(The little quota from Alexander is of course worth reading, but don't go on for "les mer...")
People used to say that just as the twentieth century had been the century of physics, the twenty-first century would be the century of biology… We would gradually move into a world whose prevailing paradigm was one of complexity, and whose techniques sought the co-adapted harmony of hundreds or thousands of variables. This would, inevitably, involve new technique, new vision, new models of thought, and new models of action. I believe that such a transformation is starting to occur…. To be well, we must set our sights on such a future. - Christopher Alexander, The Nature of Order
Well, when I look at what is now happening in my capital city, Oslo, this transformation of which Alexander talks about so optimistically, is definitely not occurring here. In contrary Oslo has started to dig a dark crater of modernism for central Oslo down by the fjord, consisting of Operakvarteret, The Barcode Wall (the Barcode wall is a part of Operakvarteret, alaignin Oslo S at one side and Bjørvika at the other side) and the Central Station area (above or in front of Oslo S and its North-West side), creating a nihilistic wasteland of dystopian modernistic typologies. The goal is ironically to give "life" back to Bjørvika, an earlier dock, and the Central Station area (Oslo S). Learn about Bjørvika from English Wikipedia here, and about the Barcode Project here. Read the latest article in Aftenposten about the Barcode Wall and the architecht behind it, Winy Maas, here.

Barcode buildings under construction, early 2009. A violation of the 15 properties of life! The photo is taken from a train arriving Oslo S (the central station).

Back in 2009 when the construction of the above "starchiscrapers" started I was indifferent to all this, as I had not yet heard about Christopher Alexander. Its only recently I've become fully aware of the gigantic scale of this destruction. I was chocked when I a Sunday in May drove through Oslo for the baptism of my new nephew and realized the construction of the wall of shame (and definitely not the wall of fame, like the starchitects proclaim), the Barcode Wall, had already started.

Though neither the new opera in Bjørvika can by validated, as far as I can understand, by the 15 properties, it does at least look nice from a distance, and it doesn't dominate the surrounding, block the view and throw dark shadows on the ground.

Alien Barcode intruders raising over Oslo, May 2010.
   Is this a new Steven Spielberg horror movie?
PriceWaterhouseCoopers office building in Bjørvika, an expression of pure anxiety! (Anti-gravity anxiety)
Barcode project, Bjørvika, Oslo, PWC Building (right) and KLP Building (left, seen from Trelastgata. This is not life, it's degradation of life! Why? Because the human scale is fully abcent!

I have to ask, why all this glass? I can't think of no other reason than that it shines, it reflects the lights and the sun. Just like the starchitects themselves want to shine like the sun, the glass reflects their superegos, they want to become like Ra, the Egyptian sun god. These buildings are icons of superegos camouflaged as creativity!

The new National Museum
Typically these image based (and NOT science based) modernistic typologies (ideologies) are about to spread (infect) to the rest of my poor capital city, like with the new National Museum at Vestbanen. This is nothing but a gigantic cube virus!

A gigantic new cube virus (the National Museum) is to be built behind the poor old railroad station at Vestbanen, just north of Bjørvika

The decision of building the new National Museum as an anti-fractal, anti-human-scale, anti-surroundings cube virus is settled, and to hear the elites with the Norwegian minister of culture in front overdoing each other in their praise of the "beauty" and "boldness" of the architecture of their (not mine!) new National Museum, both makes me laugh and cry. These marionettes so afraid of not being in the middle of the opinions of the elites, mocking ordinary people like myself as unschooled "kitsch lovers".  

I even think they are going to move the Viking Ships, now situated in the Viking Ship Museum in a beautiful natural scenery out at Bygdøy, to this anti-Norwegian museum, contradicting the whole architecture heritage of Norway.

The Viking Ship Museum is actually nice! The Viking Ships belong to here, not in the new National Museum mocking their heritage.

While the new National Museum is situated West of Operakvarteret, there are also plans for degrading the area South-East of Operakvarteret with a huge modernistic monument worshiping Le Corbusier, the modernists idol. This "anti-gravity-anxiety" EGO-scraper (with NO scaling hierarchy!) will be situated by the Oslo Fjord like a "welcoming"  monument (I would rather say a scare away-monument, as used in ancient times to frighten enemies) for those arriving Oslo by boat. Luckily it's not decided yet, so let's decide to forget it!

Is this really the best way of welcoming tourists arriving Oslo the "Fjord Way"

Is Lambda going to represent Munch?
Another "great" idea of the elites to make their new "paradise" (like envisioned by Le Corbusier) shine in "glory", is to move the museum for the Norwegian icon, the famous painter Edvard Munch, to Bjørvika.

Lambda (or Lumbago Munch) is likely to become the new Munch Museum at Bjørvika, Oslo. 

Among Oslo's residents the Lambda building has been renamed to Lumbago Munch, a much better name as the look of this building generates the same pain in your brain as a lumbago does to your back. It's not just the overhang that generates anxiety and alarm to the people beneath it, threatening with falling down crushing them, but also the fact that it consists of pure anti-gravity-anxiety!
There is something profoundly disturbing about buildings that consist of horizontal slabs. We can understand this physiological/psychological reaction because of anti-gravity anxiety. A large number of horizontal buildings have been built around the world, their architects ignoring our negative reaction to them. In addition to affecting our senses, this method kills architectural design in three dimensions, since building facades cannot be created within this narrow design paradigm. Twelve Lectures on Architecture, by Nikos A. Salingaros, page 52
This generates a very odd feeling, the building wants to jump of from the ground, but at the same time you know that if it does so it will fell down on its head, as its bending forward. A very odd feeling indeed!

One that is boldly fighting these plans is the Norwegian poet Jan Erik Vold (See Dag & Tid nr. 20, 2011). Not just because of its look (Kåre Willoch says that Munch himself would had turned over in his grave if he could see it), but also because of the stupidity of moving the museum away from Tøyen where it's now located. This is because Tøyen, as the "labour quarter" of East Side Oslo, needs this museum and Munch's art much more than fancy Bjørvika! What's happening is that the rest of Oslo is being drained for important cultural institutions moving to Operakvarteret. As a kind of glorifying of fancy archistars and the elites new project.

The decision about the Lambda building is neither set yet, but it's close too! So let's join Jan Erik Vold in his fight before it's too late, and yet another violation has been forced upon OUR capital city from above (I do here definitely don't refer to God, as this is surely an utterly hedonistic building).
Rem Koolhaas sees this as the crisis of modernity. He says that “Modernism’s alchemistic promise – to transform quantity into quality through abstraction and repetition – has been a failure, a hoax: magic that didn’t work.” In his apt metaphor, we stand at the bottom of a “crater of modernity.” The architecture we produce, then, is little more than re-assembled bits from the blast. – Katarxis Nº 3
The Central Station (Oslo S)
The last project I learned about to be added to the blast of this new crater of "modernity" in downtown Oslo, to be dropped down from above at Bjørvika, where the bombs consist of visual terror contradicting (destroying) human biophilia, like real bombs destroy human biology, is the Oslo Central Station "renewal". (Read my article: From Stone Desert to Glass Desert).

The new plan for bringing  "life" back to the area around Oslo Central Station. The beginning of the Barcode Wall is seen at the lower right corner.

Oslo S (central station) is at the beginning of Oslo's main street Karl Johans Gate, going all the way from Oslo S to the Norwegian Royal Palace. Karls Johans Gate is a very nice street to stroll! Its a pity the modernists now attempt to re-destroy (as this part is already destroyed, but why destroy it twice?) its starting point.

In contrary to what is happening in and around Bjørvika I'm proud of Oslo's parade street. As the modernists love to contrast "old and new", they now plan to contrast this beauty with their ugly ideology (I repeat that their ideology has nothing to do with science, but is image based).

The International Style
What's the sign of modernism is that it's international, by Philip Johnson in the 1932 Museum of Modern Art exhibit in New York City named the International Style, which means throwing ALL the world's form languages on the garbage pile (like Mao did with the Chinese heritage during his "cultural revolution"), making a global monoculture of architecture. This is why NOTHING about modernism is unique, it's just a repetition of the same typologies ALL over the world. It's perceived as "sexy" because it first fills you with a "trilling" anxiety, like ALL fetishes do. But it's NOT healthy for the human biophilia!

Is Oslo hoping for a "Bilbao effect" with all these new "signal buildings"? In that case it has turned out that this effect was nothing but a media driven gimmick:
Amendola's thesis have been the subject of discussion between Italian architects and colleagues and citizens of Bilbao on the blog "De Architecture" by Peter Pagliardini. The picture that has emerged is quite clear: "Bilbao Effect" is not what we believe has been done to publicize the design architecture. What really contributed to the rebirth of the Basque city have been integrated into an infrastructure development plan unknown to the international community, to whom the buildings are just superstars insignificant appendage. There were not the big names to revitalize Bilbao, but a clear political will and a big commitment, which allowed (with the work of local professionals) to rebuild the urban fabric, run the airport terminal, make the Underground, the Palazzo dei Congressi , the new bridge over the Ria, retrieve the suburbs and the city housing stock, build new housing estates, car parks, parks, street lighting systems, etc... (Google automatic translation from Italian). - Massimo Locci
In that process, we discover that the world which we can know - truly know - is a much faster and more complex one that was understood in the earlier days of purely mechanistic science which lasted from about 1600 A.D. to about 2000 AD.
Yes, 2000 A.D.! The exciting potential which is influencing our entire system within all the sciences from applied to theoretical is pointing in a direction that has wonderful consequences for beings in 2010. As a species we are able to influence patterns of cellular networks that can influence states of well-being. -
The mechanistic world view of Descartes, Le Corbusier, the modernists, the postmodernists, the deconstructionists, the international style, is now broken, and The Nature of Order has returned! Operakvarteret with its mechanistic machine architecture belongs to the past, a dead end, and will soon be massively condemned!

My suggestions for an eventual strategy of the Salingaros Group
To save Oslo is now too late as the meltdown has gone too far in spreading its toxic waste, I do here first of all think about the Barcode Wall. Like with the Fukushima reactor we can only hope for reducing the damage, to save what can still be saved.

What can maybe still be saved is the wholeness of Karl Johans Gate, or more precisely the beginning of Oslo's parade street, the Central Station (Oslo S) area.

For the new Munch Museum it doesn't matter however ugly and inhuman this building will become if its going to be built in Bjørvika, as this area is already destroyed by the rationalists and the archistars insanity (ego), and to make one healthy building cannot save this area, but the whole area needs to be reconstructed. What we should focus on here is to rebuild a new Munch Museum at Tøyen, where it belongs to.

I want to thank the Salingaros Group for looking at what's now happening with my capital city! Maybe you find that the destruction of Oslo has already gone too far, and that engaging in this mess will just be a waste of time? If so I can understand your conclusions very well! But on behalf of my newly born daughter I should be very happy if you at least could help to save something, even very small, for a (hopefully) new future as foreseen by Christopher Alexander.

Interactive map of the new projects at the bottom of this article:
(Nb! This article was written in a somewhat angry mode, for future I'll try to use more irony and less anger in my writings.)


  1. The terminal project also includes upgrades to the roadway system and the redevelopment of the forecourt areas. The ongoing construction works form the first phase of the two-phased Terminal 2 project.


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