Nydalen’s Most Exciting Journey Starts Now

Nydalen and Storo possess a distinct urban quality that is only partially realized. What then is unique about Nydalen, and what do we aim to continue? Erling Fossen and Kaja Melbye ask this question in this previously published chronicle in Nordre Aker Budstikke.

On behalf of the Oslo Metropolitan Arena (OMA) and OMA’s landowner forum for Nydalen Storo, Hille Melbye architects have prepared a building floor analysis for the area. All illustrations in this article are taken from this analysis.

Nydalen is one of our historically most “burdened” – in the true sense of the word – neighborhoods. Oslo’s industrial adventure from the mid-19th century would not have been the same without Nydalen. When the industry moved or closed down in the 1980s, a new historical period began when the Oslo municipality decided that Nydalen should become an attractive place to create new jobs. Unfortunately, this period was characterized by the demolition of historical buildings and the construction of nondescript commercial buildings surrounded by generous parking spaces at street level. Now Nydalen is finally set to become a city, with many more residential units, cohesive green structures, and inviting neighborhood streets.

Oslo Metropolitan Area will be part of this journey. OMA is a non-profit organization with both private and public members, all united under the vision that Oslo should become a model for urban development. Therefore, we have established the Nydalen Storo Area Forum with the 16 largest property developers in the area. The area forum has emerged as a response from developers who want to contribute to comprehensive area development rather than stamp development of their own plots. The area forum is also desired by the Oslo municipality, which suggests that the private developers establish their own infrastructure company following the example of the Bjørvika model. We have engaged Hille Melbye architects to create a common vision for the area. This vision is based on the existing Action List for Public Spaces Nydalen prepared by the PBE, which in turn is based on the private master plan Nydalen +. The advantage of the area forum is that we can see the private and public spaces in a holistic context.

Nydalen and Storo possess a distinct urban quality that is only partially realized. The identity must be further defined and reinforced through ongoing projects and development in the area. Therefore, all development and analysis should start with the site’s identity. What then is unique about Nydalen, and what do we aim to continue?

  1. The many historical traces present here ensure that Nydalen does not become like Løren. In Løren, there was a former military camp, and except for the continuation of Kanonhallen, they started from scratch. In Nydalen, it is meaningless to conceal or remove the historical traces.
  2. Nydalen is also a hidden gem that connects east and west. Right here, Akerselva is the river that connects the city, not the river that divides it. The beautiful water space extends all the way down to Akerselva from both the west and east, and the swift current is tamed so that both children and young people can step into the river without their parents’ hearts being in their throats. Nydalen is in many ways a natural playground in miniature.

It is natural to divide Nydalen Storo into 3 different zones, each with its own character and pace. Storo is the center for vibrant urban commerce where the shopping center will gradually open up and integrate with surrounding areas. Nydalen’s “city” and natural origin become Gullhaug Square where Snøhetta’s new high-rise will be the landmark that reinforces Nydalen’s urban character, while Spinneriparken in the north of the area becomes the zone where urbanity decreases gradually into magnificent nature.

So, what are the barriers, deficiencies, and, most importantly, the solutions for Nydalen? Ring 3 encircles Nydalen and Storo like a constricting snake to the east and north, reinforcing the area’s character as an isolated island. This is addressed by strengthening the north-south axis by establishing offerings in the northern part of the area so that people are encouraged to move under the bridge. It is also important to open up the ground floors of the many commercial buildings from Gullhaug Square northwards so that Nydalen finally gets an attractive street front. Nydalen Storo is also characterized by large level differences and little readability, especially in the east-west axis. There is little movement east-west. Here, more “pearl chains” consisting of small pearls consisting of squares, green areas, and offerings for urban recreation must be established. Nydalen and Storo need more squares and meeting places, but also more green areas and, most importantly, connections between them. The much-discussed park must and will come, and be connected to the unique water space by Akerselva.

Every successful area development depends on a good three-party collaboration between the public as planners, the private sector as developers, and residents and users who clearly express what they want. The vision map of the area forum has already been presented to, and well received by, the municipality. With this article, we also aim to reach out to the residents of Nydalen and Storo, and invite them to join us on the journey. Because one thing is already clear. Nydalen’s golden age starts NOW.