Oslo Lysverkenes Administrasjonsbygning & Krogh-salen

Built in 1931 in Soli plass, the red brick building exhibits a certain austerity in its character. Designed by the Norwegian architects Andreas Bjerke and Georg Eliassen, who won the competition for Kristiania Elektrisitetsverk’s Administration Building in 1917, it is a splendid example of monumental neoclassic style in Oslo. At first glance, it may present itself as a volume with a rigid metric, with the windows disposed in a clear way. However, as one gets closer to the entrance, the subtleties of its form and materiality start to become evident; the main facade is not straight and the ground floor is open to the street. As result, the building creates a connexion between the exterior and its interior, while never compromising the privacy of its main spaces.

Main facade, Sommerrogaten 1 | Photograph by the author

Main facade, Sommerrogaten 1 | Photograph by the author

With an underlying principle of compression and release, the architects manage to control how a person will move inside of the building. The space preceding its main entrance, next to the marble columns by the artist Aslaug Borgfelt, works as a small shelter that both protects and distributes visitors to the different areas — it should not be regarded as a place of permanence. Inside the lobby that gives access to the Krogh Room, the previous feeling of contention is replaced by a notion of amplitude given by the height of its white walls and the distribution of the box-shaped lights on the ceiling. On the following areas — the first one, the zone by the staircase, and the second, the breakfast room,— the same logic of restrain and liberation is applied in order to emphasise the impact on the visitor when entering the main salon.

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Section, highlighting the Krogh-salen | Drawing by the author based on the original

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Ground floor plan, highlighting the Krogh-salen | Drawing by the author based on the original

The breakfast room has a different atmosphere compared to the other spaces. On one hand, there is the exquisite painted wall, done by Per Krogh, that depicts a fictional city, influenced by the presence of the machine and a new vision of the modern life that would overcome the Great Crisis of the 1930s. On the other, it is possible to observe different materials that complement each other: the concrete structure with a light pastel green stucco layer on top; the dark steel frames of the windows and the black curtains on the upper level; the light wood doors and windows on the lower level; the tiled duo chrome floor; and also, the slightly darker green curtains at the entrance of the room. The complexity of this composition lies in its clarity and richness, with a great selection of materials, that are both rough and smooth, in a very stylised and elegant appearance that aims to exalt modernity.

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Dispatch Hall (1930s) | Byggekunst 14 (1932), page 229

Krogh Salen (2016) | Photograph by the author

Krogh-salen (2016) | Photograph by the author

Sources

  • Bjercke, Andreas; Eliassen, Georg (1932). ‘Lysverkenes Administrasjonsbygning, Oslo’, Byggekunst, 14, pp. 222-233.
  • Feature imaged by Andreas Harvik, courtesy of Nasjonalmuseet.