Aker Brygge is one of Oslo’s most vibrant precincts, with its eclectic mix of apartments, shopping, culture and restaurants. The place is visited by around 12 million people each year, both residents and tourists. Aker Brygge is part of ‘Havnepromenaden’, a 12km long publicly accessible waterfront promenade, connecting the city from east to west. Aker Brygge functions as an important hub for public transportation; trams, busses and boats to the neighboring islands are located here. The landscape design is important for Aker Brygge’s success as an inviting lively urban space.
In 1985 Aker Brygge was transformed from a former shipyard into a lively urban neighborhood that connected Oslo to its forgotten waterfront. In 2010, the area was about to lose its function as a destination, loosing attractivity to other precincts. The goal behind the revitalization in 2010 was to recreate a vibrant precinct where the urban qualities for the urban spaces was kept and integrated in the commercial concept. The outside and inside “streets” was seen as one. In addition to the outdoor areas that LINK Landskap has created, the transformation therefore also includes the refurbishing of both office buildings and malls.
Managing privatization whilst also attracting people to stay; spending time and money – to interact with each other and the place – beyond facilitating commercial and retail interests was a focus of the design team throughout the life of the project. The design concept includes bringing the floor of the urban space into the buildings. Inner shopping streets are established at the same level as the external floors, and are interwoven with the external streets to create a comprehensive experience of «street shopping». The facades facing the streets are activated with stores, restaurants and generous entrances for the tenants. The urban square, Bryggetorget, has been transformed with new floors and enhanced conditions for the restaurants.
Aker Brygge is designed with an elaborate yet restrained ‘stone carpet’ unifying the promenade and directing visual focus towards the mix of new and historical facades and out towards spectacular fjord views. The aim of the granite paving was to create a robust, non-directional paving surface, with few detailed accents and no obvious, repeating patterns. Three different modules were developed and employed to create a legible yet seamless integration of various pedestrian, vehicular and shared traffic zones. The smallest paving elements are deployed where vehicles need access and risk for wear is greatest, graduating up to the two largest paving modules within pedestrian areas adjacent to the boardwalk and water’s edge.
Along the waterfront the promenade street named Stranden has been reconfigured, simplified, reorganized, and consolidated to create a wider, more generous waterfront with more space for promenading and ‘staying’ activities. This increased the site’s flexibility, allowing spontaneous and un-planned activities to occur more readily than previously. The result is a more dynamic urban experience and more “space for life”. The methods of ‘Proxemics’, established by Edward T. Hall, in combination with the theories and observations of William H. Whyte, were synthesized and applied to the project’s Nordic context. This inspired a flexible framework that encourages ‘staying’; a celebration of the importance of social interaction and passive participation within the public realm. Street furniture includes off-the-shelf and custom designed elements. The result is diversity of form within a clearly defined framework, encouraging diverse social activity whilst also allowing for individual contemplation. The furniture typology consists of benches, sunbeds, wooden steps and seating facing the water. ‘Stranden’s’ signature color is Signal Orange; an easily recognizable remnant of Oslo Fjord’s contemporary maritime history. This has now become the common color for a larger part of Havnepromenaden.
Stranden’s design is intrinsically democratic and accessible – inherently Nordic traits – whilst also challenging traditional Nordic definitions of personal space in the public realm. The project defies typical Nordic cultural behaviors (‘introvert’, ‘private’, focused traditionally on ‘seclusion’ and contact with ‘nature’) by physically connecting users and encouraging them to interact and inhabit the public realm; pinpointing opportunities to socialize whilst also facilitating passive participation. The project reflects the Nordic countries’ changing cultural composition, bringing with it the need to reassess the way public spaces are designed – spaces where people meet and interact.
Entrant office name: LINK Arkitektur AS Landskap
Role of the entrant in the project: Landscape architects
Other design firms involved:
Vestre (Furniture) / ECT (Lightning) / Bundebygg – Vedal Prosjekt – AF Gruppen – Braathen (Entrepreneurs)/ SpaceGroup (retail and office refurbishment)
Project location: Aker Brygge, Oslo
Design year: 2012-2014
Year Built: 2013-2015
Awards: WAN Waterfront Award 2016, Cityprisen 2016