Norwegian Architecture in the 1980s

The postmodernist movement of the 1980s never achieved the momentum that functionalism did in the 1930s. Many architects saw postmodernism as a betrayal of modernism, and in Norway it led to relatively few significant architectural works.

One important example, however, was the transformation in Oslo of Scandinavian University Press’s run-of-the-mill seven-story office building into a playful, multiform world (Jan Digerud and Jon Lundberg, 1980). Two other notable postmodern projects – both by Arne Henriksen, an architect for Norwegian State Railways – were Holmia Station, a small rail station feeding an Oslo suburb, and a railway carriage hall in Lodalen. Each of these buildings was awarded Norway’s foremost architectural prize, the Anton Christian Houen Fund’s Certificate for Outstanding Architecture, thus conferring professional approval on the postmodern wave.

Postmodernism emerged as a protest against the perceived lack of expression in modernism. It gave contemporary architects a heightened sense of freedom in their search for new directions. Leading architects such as Lund & Slaatto continued to design structuralistic works, but in the 1980s their buildings became more diverse and richer in expressive detail. Their new headquarters for the Central Bank of Norway (1986) occupies a full block in central Oslo and manages to create harmony between new buildings and old. The dimensions of the Sølvberget cultural centre in Stavanger (1987) are apportioned so as to complement the surrounding wooden houses. St. Magnus Church (1988) in Lillestrøm is composed of modular elements that form a large, rounded sanctuary with a chapel on each side. A building of the present, it nonetheless conforms to the traditional notion of a church.

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Scandinavian University PressPhoto: (c)  Jiri Havran / Arkitekturmuseet

St. Magnus ChurchPhoto: (c)  Jiri Havran / Arkitekturmuseet

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