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

Torsdag 15. oktober 20:00

Fragment from 2010: Groruddalen + 10

4 av 7 Interview series

Pageimage 2010

Illustration: OAT

Av Will Jennings

A strong component of Oslo Architecture Triennale is the exhibition and publication of research, new architectural propositions and fresh ideas for imagining the capital. The theme of 2010, Man Made, focused on innovative and progressive spatial policies with a view towards a more sustainable way of living. This included research of and propositions for the Groruddalen Valley by Geir Nummedal and Anders Hus Folkedal, then recently graduated students, and Will Jennings invited them to revisit their project, and the valley, a decade later.

In 2010 Geir Nummedal and Anders Hus Folkedal had just graduated from the Institute of Urbanism and Landscape at Oslo school of Architecture and Design. Their 2009 Diploma project Systemic Reclamation: A Functional Green Infrastructure for Groruddalen was exhibited in the 2010 Oslo Architecture Triennale exhibition Manmade Environment, and featured in the accompanying publication New Nordic Scopes (PDF here).

It was in this book that I encountered their research for the Groruddalen Valley. The valley is not a part of Oslo that features in touristic brochures, and though I had not previously heard of the suburb I recognised it as an area which every city has – and needs – in order to function. Reading their Diploma Project, now available online, outlining a wide-scale, coherent approach to reimagining the valley with a new ecology and relationship to the river Alna at the heart, I saw in it various strategies which could be successful not just in Oslo but in any similar urban-industrial landscape.

Dipspread01 web

Introduction pages from Diploma Project, 2009,
by Geir Nummedal & Anders Hus Folkedal

I wondered what had happened to that research, the valley’s development, and Geir and Anders themselves over the ten years since. I was curious how they now look back on the project with hindsight of ten years in practice, and with climate issues now more pronounced. Would they stick to their initial ideas? As students, were they too utopian and idealistic? Perhaps now they wouldn’t think their ideas even went far enough! Following our conversation, the landscape architects created new mappings to underpin their thoughts, build on their ideas of 2009, and illustrate this text.


Their 2009 Diploma Project set out to create a “functional” green infrastructure model for the valley. In a document heavy on research, data and mappings, the two designers laid out plans in which greenery wasn’t a nice afterthought, but a critical starting point which informed later developments, protecting and restoring ecosystems around the river Alna as it flows towards the city centre, based on “systemic logic of reclamation and production in an urban context.”

Their strategy suggested ways of improving air, soil and water qualities through not only the framework, but also four key project: a water treatment park at Breivoll; landfill reclamation at Stubberud; a sound barrier and emissions control along the E6 road; and a bioremediation zone and plant nursery at Nyland. Throughout, they considered various new technologies alongside traditional processes to filter pollutants from the ecosystem in what the called “overlapping systems”, for example with a strategy planting trees in the path of prevailing winds at Stubberud to filter polluted air, with contaminants soaking into groundwater and passing to the water treatment park at Breivoll.

Dipspread02 web

Mappings from Diploma Project, 2009,
by Geir Nummedal & Anders Hus Folkedal


The valley is an important part of Oslo’s urban functions. The roads and rail provide deliveries in and out of the city, with a number of cargo distribution centres located in the area. There is a great number of sheds and yards with manufacturing, light industrial and “dirty” processes which may not be romantically beautiful parts of the city, but are fundamental to it. The river Alna flows through the valley – Or rather it now runs under the valley, with the main and side streams predominantly contained within pipes under roads and industrial developments.

Geir and Anders are firm in their belief that the logistics and light industrial uses of the valley are important to Oslo, and in a digital age where global shipping and local distribution is even more critical, the valley as a zone of key logistical access to and from the city is valuable and to be respected. Geir says, “In 2009 we acknowledged that every city needs a back yard. You can’t have beautiful places everywhere, a city needs to function and it has different needs, and they need to be placed in a logical way to function.”

Their new mapping of the valley, below, shows in yellow major development projects which have taken place in the valley over the last ten years, while the magenta shading demarcates the area of Stubberud with buried landfill which will continue to decompose and leach contaminates into the soil for the next 30-40 years.

Prop 01 web

Developments in Groruddalen, 2020,
by Geir Nummedal & Anders Hus Folkedal

The whole area is very much in the municipality’s plans for development, to increase both attractivity and density. I asked the designers if they look back at their project and consider it romantic or utopian, as so many student exercises can be without the restrictions of real client, budget or programme. However, they suggest that the ongoing municipality plans are more utopian then their 2009 proposals.

They state that the modern urban desire to turn everywhere into a one-size-fits-all mixed-use area, in which residential, recreation, transport and industrial uses happily coexist in the same area, is an unrealisable and undesirable outcome of city planning. Geir states, “You have this really plugged in and super-effective cargo logistics area that is working, it might not seem a part of the city, but it’s important to its function – so do we really want to try to insert a new mixed-use urban development?”

Anders says that their discussions “quickly led us to think that maybe the logistics function should remain, but with new landscapes and systems around it to build a framework, and then it could contain even better versions of the functions, but it could also over time adapt include housing. In our view, it’s too soon to introduce mixed-purpose urban development here. If residential is to emerge into the area, then the most realistic approach would be that it grows slowly from the side and not just appear as islands within.”

I wondered if any of their ideas or strategies had come to fruition since 2009, that even though it was only a student project I was curious if any of their creative responses had been adopted by the council or developers. Geir talks me through a small Groruddalen site he has worked on in practice since, a project designing a new rail cargo hub for the post office. With hard work he was able to bring a section of the river Alna – long concealed within pipes underground – back to the surface, allowing in this small locality an area of water treatment and blue/green landscaping. It’s an example of how the Diploma Project can be applied to the terrain, though he acknowledges that in the wider scheme it’s tiny and “not part of a larger plan, just by chance that a stream could be opened up”.

This reminder of the need of a larger framework was a recurring theme in our conversation, that a fragmented approach of small interventions such as the postal service site simply wont holistically solve the environmental issues of the area or offer a structure for cohesive development, and it leads into one of their primary critiques of their own work a decade earlier.


Looking back, they recognise that their 2009 designs concentrated so much on the grand projects at the four locations that the interconnectivity between them all wasn’t considered as profoundly as they would now propose. They show me mappings from the post-war city redevelopment plans of 1949, demarcating strong green corridors wrapping through and around Groruddalen, compartmentalising the various communities but also creating a coherent ecological structure binding the whole valley. They say that the suburb has been developed “almost perfectly” in line with these post-war plans laid out in 1949, except as Anders states, “the green has been sacrificed – it’s a classic example where the soft qualities have been lost.” Over time, the green network has been subsumed below industrial development, the river buried into pipes, and the coherence of the 1949 plan abandoned.

Prop 02 web

A new ecological corridor, 2020,
by Geir Nummedal & Anders Hus Folkedal

Their 2020 proposals would recognise the intent of that 1949 plan, and build on their 2009 project, by stitching together the four primary project sites, embedding stronger green corridors through the whole valley. Their new map, above, shows in red where they would now propose reclamation of land in order to create a larger green buffer to create an ecological spine.

This wider corridor expands on their 2009 proposals profoundly, giving the ecological infrastructure greater strength and resilience to future developments, and creating a coherent interconnectivity along the length of the valley. Their new mapping, below right, shows the total extent of the newly proposed core green infrastructure, and is a clear expansion upon their 2009 proposals, below left.

20092020 web

Extent of green infrastructure – 2009 proposals (left) and 2020 proposals (right), 2020,
by Geir Nummedal & Anders Hus Folkedal


Geir and Anders’ most radical suggestion which has emerged from their invitation to revisit their 2009 work is complicated for them. Ten years ago, their proposals were not just picked up by Oslo Architecture Triennale, but also the municipality, who used the pair’s diagrams and proposals to create a narrow river park around the re-surfaced Alna in their 2010 Planprogram for Breivoll. That their graduate project could be acknowledged at political level and partially incorporated into official planning documents is a mark of success for their research and design solutions – but in retrospect, but also led to some regret.

The Breivoll area of Groruddalen was the imagined site for Geir and Anders’ grand water treatment park in their 2010 project. An ecological landscape of 200,000m2, creating one of the city’s largest parks and providing not only recreational space but, more fundamentally, a vast water-treatment facility to clean contaminants from groundwater and run-off flowing down the valley to the fjord. The Alna would have been brought up from subterranean pipes to the surface, while bioremediation terraces, wetlands, basins and careful planting would act as a series of stages cleansing the water en route through the valley. At Stubberud, just to the east along the E6 road, they proposed a sloped forested landscape to buffer cold air drawn down the valley, contaminants from the polluted air adhering to the leaves and finding their way into groundwater before passing through the Breivoll water treatment park. An audacious and grand statement, but the pair now wish they had been even bolder!

The municipality’s Planprogram for Breivoll earmarks the area south of the E6 and west of the railway for a dense mixed-use scheme centred on a new Breivoll station. But Anders points out that this site is far from ideal and that this kind development should not take place here because such an urban build up restricts natural large-scale airflow through the valley leading to a settling of polluted air which can sit for days, stagnating. The waterpark not only cleans the water, but creates a wide open space allowing free passage of air down the length of the valley, preventing the settling.

Anders says of such a Breivoll development “’re just clogging up the valley even more. As you have this cold air it drains down to the 2m level, stays there and stagnates, so you get a kind of toxic air in winter. If you gave asthma, you better stay away. And we regret that we didn’t make this area even bigger and greener because we knew of the municipality proposals to build this area. But maybe if we were bolder they wouldn’t have put our Alna river ideas in.”

Here lies their complicated regret. In hindsight, if they had proposed that this whole vast area was dedicated to a green landscape, as they suggest in their 2020 update, then the municipality may have not have incorporated their smaller proposal to bring the Alna to the surface around a narrow river park. But as it is, the park is a small add-on to a standard mixed-use development which they perceive to be in an inappropriate site.

Their 2020 update of the scheme emphasises this. Their mapping, below, shows an enlarged version of the water treatment park, in green, which completely covers the proposed development site. Radically, they also propose burying the E6 into a tunnel, which Anders states is “crucial for establishing the water cleaning park”, adding that “it may be radical, but logical – not doing anything to the highway means status quo in terms of ventilation, air and water pollution, and future transformation.” The pair point out that this would be led by the Norwegian government, in charge of the roads, working with the city municipality to “kickstart a new ecological approach for the future development of Oslo eastwards”.

Shown in blue on the mapping, wide areas either side of the water park, and above the newly buried road, offer space for green landscaping that could in time be sacrificed for new developments as the area needs, leaving the core ecological corridor.

Prop 04 web

Proposals for Breivoll , 2020,
by Geir Nummedal & Anders Hus Folkedal

Alongside the structural landscape suggestions for Breivoll and expansion of the green corridor throughout the valley, Geir and Anders propose have six key points:

1. That progress should be made in bringing the Alna to the surface, out of the pipes, and to use this to realise plans for a river park as a spine down the valley.

2. To better ventilate the valley’s large-scale natural airflow, preventing the stagnation of very still, polluted air which can stay in the same place for days.

3. Stopping pollution from entering the water system.

4. To not deny that logistics and light industry are important elements of the city, but instead to work with the specific requirements of these sectors to work with, not against, ecological plans.

5. To increase the buffering capacity of the urban ecology, in air, soil and water.

6. To allow this framework to provide the foundations for future urban development of Stubberud landfill areas to the north east of the valley.


The main critique the pair wished to raise was the need of continuity: Continuity of ecological spaces, to create corridors which connect all the way through the valley; and a continuity of thought in treating the whole of the Groruddalen Valley as a site, rather than a collection of smaller parcels. They emphasise that such systems, critical to the wider city as much as the local, need space to work, and can’t simply be squeezed in at the edges of new mixed-use developments. These ideas of interconnectedness, they state, were at the heart of their 2010 project though they now see did not go far enough, and in this 2020 update are reinforced and expanded upon.

Critical to all architectural practice now is, or should be, climate breakdown, and Geir speaks of how the urgency of our response has changed immensely over the last decade, and this may have opened people up to new methods and ideas. He says, hopefully, that “governments and the general population might now be more ready for taking on new responsibilities in urban contexts, so we can actually organise our urban growth within an ecologically sustainable system.”

Geir and Anders said that it was “timely” to look back at their scheme and appreciated this invitation from Oslo Architecture Triennale to reconsider their student project with a hindsight of ten years expertise and knowledge. The new mappings drawn during their conversations critiquing, assessing and updating their student project, also act as a creative outcome from this 20 year anniversary of the Triennale – provocations which can feed into the ongoing discussions of the city.

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.