Arnstein Arneberg, Magnus Poulsson. Oslo City Hall

by Phoebe Wai Fung Chu and Eakapob Huangthanapan


Oslo’s City Hall (Rådhuset) is considered one of the best Norwegian structures of the century. It houses the City Council, administrative offices, the National Celebration Hall (where the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony takes place) and art galleries.

The building was initially built in 1931 and took almost two decades to be completed, being inaugurated in 1950. One of the reasons for the delay in the construction was the outbreak of World War II as well as the complexity of the delicate and elaborate details and embellishments within the building itself.

At first glance, one may regard the building as very functionalist building, however when being observed thoroughly it is visible that the building possesses a complex layer of embellishments and ornaments that are often alien to the modernism.


We were also intrigued by the building’s expressive forms and its symmetry, applied in the interiors, the exterior and the overall urban scale.

We opted to tackle our research through the media of hand-drawing, letting our own organic drawing tools (hands) help us understand and observe closely the interesting details embedded within this extraordinary piece of architecture.

From the exterior of the building, the layering and stacking of the bricks are very intriguing and extremely interesting details. Below are the architectural drawings we made studying the different typologies of the brick patterns.


Pattern 01 : located at the west and east tower, pattern and reliefs enliven the brickwork


Pattern 02 : brick located on the tower facade of the balcony


pattern 03 : West and East elevation of the foundation stones

03pattern 04 : zig-zag pattern on the harbor facing facade


Pattern 05 : bricks at the entrance court

01-01 02-01

brick dimension edited

The interior of the main hall is as well very impressive, overwhelming with its scale and the ornamental murals and paintings. We studied the pattern on the floor and the ceiling of the interior hall and did some research on the history and meanings of the murals

diagram1 floor_zoom zoom-in study of the floor patternfloor_pattern

overall study of the pattern in the floor


ceiling patternurban_planpattern_wall

pattern of the patron wall

Nvold, U., & Anker, N. (2000). The City Hall in Oslo. Oslo: Aschehoug.
Carling, J., & Broch, S. (1997). Oslo rådhus: Historien, kunsten og Fredsprisutdelingen = The Oslo City Hall : History, art and the Nobel Peace Prize. Oslo: Normanns kunstforlag.