Harald Aars, JVA. The Oslo school of Architecture – Before and Now

The building that now hosts The Oslo School of Architecture and Design (AHO) was originally designed by the Norwegian architect Harald Aars in the late 1930s. The building consists of 4, 3 story high wings. Initially it was used as a workshop and a warehouse for Lysverkers, Olso´s public Light company, and later to host Oslo Energi. From the architectural point of view, this building is a good example of the functionalism of the 30s, with pure cubic forms, large windows and a grid system with columns and slabs that provides flexibility in the use of space. Because of that, this building is listed in Oslo’s “Yellow List”, which indicates this building is with worth preserving.


1. 1937, Construction of the building, Source: Oslo Bilder.


2. 1967, View from Gamle Aker Kirke, Source: ibid.

In 1997, Statsbygg acquired the former Oslo Energi building and decided to use this property to house the Oslo School of Architecture and Design. An open competition was held and the Norwegian Architectural Office JVA won the first price.


3. View fro Maridalsveien. Source: the same as 1.


4. 1st floor. Where the green roof now is. Source: the same as 1.

From the images above it is clear that there are no major interventions in the building from 1938 until the 1998. The only thing that changes is the wooden building (image 1), which has burned in 1950.


5. Views of “Oslo Energi” building just before the renovation. Source: Norske Arkitektkonkurranser Archive

JVA architects proposal tried to keep the style of the building and improve on that. The shrinking of the middle, truck service platform, the addition of the bridge in the entrance and the new circulatory system around the building that allowed the light to enter the 1. floor are the basic ideas of the proposal.


6. AHO entrance 2014, the bridge.


7. The green roof.

The large space in the first floor hosts all the communal activities such as the cafeteria, the library, the labs and the workshops. While on the 2. floor are most of the studios and the group rooms, or semiprivate spaces, and on the 3. floor are the services. The green roof on the 2. floor is the heart of the building, a meeting point for all students, especially during the summer time.


8. 2nd floor plan, Architectural drawing (pre execution), source: Norske Arkitektkonkurranser Archive

To conclude, since the beginning of its existence this building has hosted a lot of different activities. But the open plan and the great flexibility of it, as well as the position near the river, make it an ideal building to host The Oslo School of Architecture and Design.

  • https://aho.no/en
  • http://www.oslobilder.no/
  • http://www.jva.no/projects/large/oslo-school-of-architecture.aspx
  • Norske Arkitektkonkurranser Archive, 1998-1999, AHO Library
  • http://www.archdaily.com/2240/oslo-school-of-architecture-jva