Mandag 12. oktober

  • 08:00 Byens livsformer (2000) 1 av 7 Essayserie
  • 08:30 Arkitektur og medvirkning 1 av 3 Frokostmøter
  • 11:00 Participation and democracy in urban planning 1 av 5 Video series
  • 12:00 In conversation with forty-five degrees 1 of 4 Archive conversations
  • 12:00 Oslo In Action(s)
  • 15:00 En samtale om arkitekturkritikk 1 av 4 Arkitekturpodden
  • 18:00 Digital byggeplassbefaring til ambisiøst ombruksprosjekt 1 av 6 Åpen mik
  • 20:00 Fragment 2000: After the underground 1 av 7 Interview series

Tirsdag 13. oktober

  • 08:00 Visjoner for hovedstaden (2003) 2 av 7 Essayserie
  • 11:00 Exhibiting Architecture 2 av 5 Video series
  • 12:00 In conversation with Will Jennings 2 of 4 Archive conversations
  • 15:00 En samtale om mangfold 2 av 4 Arkitekturpodden
  • 18:00 Wohnprojekt Wien. Sustainable urban housing in Vienna 2 av 6 Åpen mik
  • 20:00 Fragment 2003: A cracked shadow 2 av 7 Interview series

Onsdag 14. oktober

  • 08:00 Culture of Risk (2007) 3 av 7 Essayserie
  • 08:30 Bolig og bokvalitet 2 av 3 Frokostmøter
  • 11:00 Education in the Oslo Architecture Triennale 3 av 5 Video series
  • 15:00 En samtale om å bo 3 av 4 Arkitekturpodden
  • 18:00 Ombruk! Men hvordan? 3 av 6 Åpen mik
  • 20:00 Fragment 2007: A greater risk? 3 av 7 Interview series

Torsdag 15. oktober

  • 08:00 Man Made (2010) 4 av 7 Essayserie
  • 11:00 Empty buildings 4 av 5 Video series
  • 15:00 En samtale om ombruk og klima 4 av 4 Arkitekturpodden
  • 18:00 In conversation with: The Curators 3 of 4 Archive conversations
  • 20:00 Fragment 2010: Groruddalen + 10 4 av 7 Interview series
  • 20:00 Jubileumsfest Avlyst

Fredag 16. oktober

  • 08:00 Bak den grønne døren (2013) 5 av 7 Essayserie
  • 08:30 Arkitektur og klima 3 av 3 Frokostmøter
  • 11:00 Home and Belonging 5 av 5 Video series
  • 12:00 In conversation with Mies. TV 4 of 4 Archive conversations
  • 18:00 Tomrommene i byen 4 av 6 Åpen mik
  • 20:00 Fragment 2013: Like a picnic 5 av 7 Interview series

Lørdag 17. oktober

  • 08:00 Etter tilhørighet (2016) 6 av 7 Essayserie
  • 18:00 Reprise av filmen Selling Dreams 5 av 6 Åpen mik
  • 20:00 Fragment 2016: Architecture with a conscience 6 av 7 Interview series

Søndag 18. oktober

  • 08:00 Nok: Arkitektur og nedvekst (2019) 7 av 7 Essayserie
  • 12:00 Barnas arkitekturdag 2020
  • 18:00 Reprise av filmen Landscape healing 6 av 6 Åpen mik
  • 20:00 Fragment 2019: The theatre of deconstruction 7 av 7 Interview series

Tirsdag 13. oktober 20:00

Fragment from 2003: A cracked shadow

2 av 7 Interview series

Pageimage 2003

Illustration: OAT

Av Will Jennings

In 2003, an inflatable form appeared in Oslo city centre. Shortly after, it was deflated and disappeared from the city. A playful intervention into what a city is intrigued Will Jennings, who wasn’t sure who to interview in order to grapple what the pneumatic building meant at the time, or what it could mean looking back from 2020. Instead, with the seventeen intervening years also framing his own journey from architecture school graduate to architectural writer, he interviews an imagined version of himself from 2003. Newly commissioned works by emerging Oslo artist Jørgen Herleiksplass Lie, final year MFA student at Oslo’s Kunstakademiet, illustrate this illusory attempt to assign meaning to moments of the past.

2020 Will Jennings: Tell me where you are, describe what you can see right now.

2003 Will Jennings: So, I am in the centre of Oslo near Rådhusplassen. And there is a fascinating thing in front of me. How to describe it? It’s like a caterpillar has crawled into the city, but one the size of a house. I just turned the corner from the Town Hall and it is just sitting there, parked up on the grass in the shade of a tree, waiting.

2020: So, it’s an actual giant caterpillar in the centre of Oslo?

2003: No. It’s a building. Well, not a building, it’s inflatable. A temporary building, I guess. A moment, like a visiting guest. It’s things like this which make me excited about cities, that turn and twist, surprise.

2020: But… But, I still don’t know what it is.

2003: I don’t really know. An experience? Instead of telling you what it is, perhaps I should say why it is. We’re currently in the second Oslo Architecture Triennale. Three years ago it was subterranean, lurking underground, inviting people into the guts to have a look at what the city was digesting. This time, with this great white caterpillar, it’s emerged to the surface, and it kind of exists for just that purpose, to get people to stop and look. There’s a queue to get into it now, but when I got here this morning I was lucky, just walked straight in.

2020: So you can go inside?

2003: Yes! And there’s nothing there, it’s wonderful! Well, there are a couple of hanging information boards, but really the space itself is its reason for being.

2020: So, it’s empty…

2003: Just a long white space. As if the same person who created the Michelin Man also designed Kubrick’s Space Odyssey. When inside you’re in this bending white corridor, broken only by the structure and rhythm of the yellow inflatable ribs – they’re like eleven bicycle inner-tubes, you’re in a new kind of building. Can we call it a building?

Cracked shadows 1 web

Broken shadows #1, by Jørgen Herleiksplass Lie. 30x20cm, oil, egg-tempera and ink on canvas, 2020.

2020: So, what’s it like in there?

: Bizarre. Strange. It’s like a cocoon from the normal urban, I guess that’s why it’s called Larven... I heard noises of the city outside, people walking to work, traffic from Dronning Mauds gate. But then also a real disconnect between that and my physical experience within a space of white solitude, clarity and security. It’s enclosing, and bigger on the inside than the outside... I guess buildings can do that, sometimes.

So, it is a building?

Why not? Its here for the Architecture Triennale. You can go inside it, it keeps the rain off. Being a caterpillar larvae I guess then want things to emerge – new buildings, ideas, or at least new ways of seeing buildings and ideas. Though, there’s nothing new about this kind of inflated building, really. In the 1960s there were lots of pneumatic architecture propositions - radical experimental inflatable spaces, temporary experiences and new ideas for living emerging from the politics of 1968.

Yeah. I see that. And it’s interesting that you’re in Oslo, because it was a Norwegian who designed one of the most famous inflatable spaces, back in 1970. Sverre Fehn designed the insides of the Nordic Pavilion at the World Expo in Osaka though it was never built. It sounds like this Larven caterpillar you’re outside now is an ode to this in some ways, fulfilling that idea. But isn’t it just a playful folly, and not really a useful architecture?

What’s wrong with playful folly?

Fair point. I guess I’ve seen one architectural folly too many over the last few years in London and… well, you don’t need to worry about that, I guess you have it all to come. But, anyway… Where were we?

2003: Yes, but I think that return to a radical something more lightweight and experiential is perhaps what our cities need, early in this new century! But then, perhaps I would say that, having just designed an inflatable building for my architecture degree final project!

2020: uh. Our architecture degree. Of course, I’d forgotten that. It seems so long ago now. Let me tell you, the world seventeen years in your future is not full of your inflatable buildings... I guess back where you are, 2003, inflatable is trendy – I can see why you’re so enamoured by Larven, it does fit with the zeitgeist and some of that hope that was in the air. It was, I guess, a moment.

How do you mean, did the moment pass? Did it deflate?

It had a moment back where you are now, the early 2000s. Like I say, there was some hope then, and this idea of temporary, popup pavilions, interventions and buildings fitted that optimism. A new start, a new way of thinking, new experiences and a break from the expected nature of things from the 20th century.

Cracked shadows 2 web

Broken shadows #2, by Jørgen Herleiksplass Lie. 30x20cm, oil, egg-tempera and ink on canvas, 2020.

2003: So, you don’t do it now? This kind of unexpected, playful imposition into a city?

2020: Well, the Larven caterpillar you’re now looking at was designed by Magne Magler Wiggen, and he’s still working on interesting things, with his company MMW. You’ll see in a couple of years time, 2005, he’ll design this fantastical green octopus-like inflatable building connecting all the buildings of the Oslo National Museum of Art. You have that to look forward to! But I shouldn’t say too much… hashtag no-spoilers!

2003: What’s a “hashtag”?

Uh, never mind. But, this kind of “pop up” architecture of temporal experiences like you had, it’s really been co-opted by capitalism. Those 1960s ideas of play, experiment and the absurd, are now strategies used by big corporations and landlords as a process of gentrification. They use these kinds of unexpected interventions to make a place look experimental and creative, but usually the money and power behind it… well, it’s just often a method used to drop some cheap temporary architecture, bright colours and a trendy aesthetic. Or containers! They are everywhere in 2020, used to make a place look like it could be changed and adapted on a whim like it’s an Archigram, Constant Nieuwenhuys or Yona Friedman project, but really it’s just a cheap system which carries some kind of phantasmagoria which adds value despite it’s temporal and low-quality demands – a useful way to extracting capital from particular demographics. And then that has a secondary use, as these popups can pop up on a plot of land in a poorer part of a city, add some plug-in culture to gentrify the area, and then easily be cleared away when the money is raised to build the luxury flats.

: Oh, wow. You sound like a lot of fun at a party.

Ha! Well, there are real struggles in the city. Housing, pollution, surveillance, authoritarianism, structural racism, huge inequality…

We have all those here, now. You just seem like a miserablist!

Just wait, you’ll see. 2020 is a blast. Anyway, you’re a lot more cynical now than you are there, in 2003. Well, I should say “critical” really. But a lot has changed, and cities – and how they are shaped, and by whom – is really part of that.

And it started with this Larven in Oslo‽

: Oh, no. Not at all. It honestly sounds wonderful. If anything, we need a lot more of that kind of innocent play now. It just got me thinking about what has changed in those nearly twenty years, and how that kind of inflatable moment represents a certain period. I guess that’s why I wanted to have this conversation with you, because in the rapid way in which ideas, cities and architectures change, it’s easy to forget where patterns and processes started.

You know I don’t really exist, right? You’re not actually talking to me…

Shhh! I know, but don’t break the fourth wall. I just don’t know how else we remember. What is memory except a conversation with a former version of yourself? And that imagined version of yourself is one created by the you now. You’re an unreliable, imagined version of what I think I am now. And, I guess, architecture is that too. We look back, we cherrypick what we consider influences, seminal, moments or useful from the past to explain where we are now. But, we can never really know what it was like to be in a certain place at a certain time, even if we were there, but especially places which are now no more.

So, I am a shadow?

Yes. And so is Larven. It went up, it came down. How many people went to see it? How many of those went inside it? How many walked by only noticing it in passing, not thinking more about it, but perhaps the idea of it, the shape of it, somehow stayed inside their thinking to this very day? A cracked shadow, fallible and crumbling, but revealing.

So, that’s why you’re interviewing me?

2020: Yeah. I was intrigued by this inflatable moment, one I had never seen or experienced, but somehow felt like I knew because of its time, my story, what it speaks to about event architecture and the moment. And the idea to see if it’s possible to remember something I never experienced, what is that kind of memory? In that, I wonder what we can think about triennales and pop-up events or spaces, which are not exactly forgotten but are just one of many moments of divergent histories. Built buildings, big solid lumps, stay there in place for decades or more, and act as monuments onto which we can project meanings, histories and uses. But the temporary, that’s harder to place.

2003: Perhaps that kind of memory, the false or created memory, is useful?

I think apparitions are always useful, they represent current fears and hopes. Which I think is why it’s been useful talking to you about Larven, and not somebody who maybe was actually there, or who designed it. Because that could tell me about something technological, or some structural reminiscences about queuing up, going inside, and then leaving the other side. But I think to really grasp some transient ideas of history, the only way to quite locate what they mean is to ask someone who wasn’t there, someone who has to work in the abstract and try to feel how it fits into time passing. And especially so for buildings such as this, which barely existed in the first place – being predominantly air – a cracked shadow.

Cracked shadows 3 web

Broken shadows #3, by Jørgen Herleiksplass Lie. 30x20cm, oil, egg-tempera and ink on canvas, 2020.

This fragment is illustrated with newly comissioned artwork by emerging Oslo artist Jørgen Herleiksplass Lie based on discussions about Oslo, memory and architecture with the author, Will Jennings, and early fragments of the final text. Jørgen is in the final year of his MFA at Oslo’s Kunstakademiet, and his work can be found online at

In this series of seven interviews, one for each iteration of the triennale, the British architectural writer Will Jennings is exploring some of the individuals, places, ideas and actions that have shaped twenty years of OAT. Will Jennings was selected to participate in the jubilee through an open call in collaboration with Future Architecture Platform.