Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.
THE CARVE in Oslo, Norway by a-lab
October 15th, 2014 by Sumit Singhal
Article source: a-lab
The Carve is an untraditional high-rise apartment building, part of Oslo’s Barcode Plan. Enveloping a narrow strip of 21m by 105m (with a maximum height regulation of 54m) the white marble and wood panel clad building embodies a mix-use complex totaling 15 stories. The first 8 floors are designated office space, topped off with residential program, in a total of 22,000 square meters. The mixed program is structured compacting the flexible office spaces in an efficient machine and optimizing the views and outdoor spaces of the apartments around a raised, covered garden.
The public passage that cuts through the first two levels facilitates for a pedestrian route through all Barcode buildings and generates the space for the separate entrance to the residential floors, connecting them directly to Oslo Central Station and the central arteries of the City.
The project is situated in the “Opera Quarter”, part of the new Oslo waterfront development. Location is in fact one of the projects assets: it has the cosmopolitan character of downtown Oslo, 5minutes from its main arteries, the Central Station and the Airport fast-train – at the same time it has the idyllic Oslo Fjord views or the low-rise city with the Oslomarka (forest hills) in the background. All this is supported by a completely new city development and infrastructure (Oslo Fjord City).
When completed, the “Opera Quarter” will be the new Central Business District and this project is part of the 20% residential program to be allocated in it.
The residential complex rests on 1,000 m2 of common, open areas – a garden terrace elevated far above street level that creates a distance to the corporate world underneath. Fitted with a panoramic elevator and open air bridges, this green foyer acts as a buffer zone, where every resident passes through on their way home. Both ends open on to communal terraces overlooking the Oslo Fjord due South and the cityscape due North and East.
The covered garden is the physical response to the uncompromising real estate strategy of the Barcode Plan, where one-sided apartments are not allowed, in order to raise the environmental standards and the living qualities in the new City waterfront development. The result is equally uncompromising: one gesture removes the one-side apartments and creates a roof garden to two new inner facades.
This architectural gesture might be the most noticeable feature; however the most notable one is that it allows for a terraced housing typology in the center of Oslo. The private terraces offer spectacular views either to the Fjord or to the City.
The lack of visible structural elements in the housing levels (except for the glass elevator) was a battle worth fighting for, with the challenge highlighted by the North-European climate requirements – regarding both temperature (energy, cold bridges) and structural loads (snow). This early design control allowed for a clearer hierarchy regarding material use and project expression.
Different security levels between the housing and bank resulted in particularly complex infrastructures (emergency circulation, ventilation, etc.)
The office levels cater to a mix of open landscape to cell offices, allowing for a flexible range of layouts. An easy variation of the circulation (along the cores or the facades) guarantees efficiency in the different solutions, as well as securing the best working conditions.
The project had to balance the necessary requirements to achieve an energy class B building (less than 126 Kwh/m2) and the Norwegian working space requirements. To reach the required energy marks the building needs to be as closed as possible, and on the other hand we need to guarantee optimal natural light conditions for workstations (not further than 10m from the facades). This challenge, combined with the structural façade solution (office space flexibility) has resulted in unusually thick facades, with very high U-values (average 500mm insulation).
Ultimately the façade is designed for optimal daylight and environmental performance and the window size variation results of the overlay of 2 parameters: the energy/heat exposure (sun studies taking account of the coming neighboring buildings) and the structural efforts inside it.
As part of the Barcode Plan, the project guarantees the regulated green area of 50% of the buildings footprint within the uncovered, open air green surface. The covered garden area comes as an added value.
The unique character of the building rests on its pragmatic approach to its programmatic duality between the nature of the office and that of the housing. Expressing this dialogue is the system behind the white marble façade. The façade grid (module), flexes at the points of higher effort. These points reveal both structural and conceptual effort, representing the areas where ideas conferred activity/changes on the shape of the initial block.
Borrowing the body analogy, the materiality of the building can be analyzed in its three layers: skin, muscle and bone. The white Spanish marble represents the skin. The incisions in this shape reveal the composite wood panel surfaces (muscle). And at last the opening through the covered garden exposes the hefty steel structure – the bones relaying the massive vertical forces back towards the ground.
The Carve combines and offers some of Oslo’s stunning new waterfront penthouses, with 40m2 terraces and panoramic common garden in the same entity of a highly efficient office machine.