Newsletter  sub>urban. Reinventing the fringe | Oslo in 3 words: placemaking, learning, creating

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Oslo in 3 words: placemaking, learning, creating
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Crossing over to the fringe area of Hovinbyen. 

Oslo was the host of the third Transnational Meeting (TM) in phase 2 of the URBACT  III network 'sub>urban. Reinventing the fringe'. We learn from the experience of each TM and build further on this. Oslo organised an impressive programme with spot on site visits, interaction and collaboration between different stakeholders, a public event and well organised in-depth sessions about the topic. 

Key facts on the Transnational Meeting:

  • When: 1-3 February 2017
  • Location: Oslo and the fringe (Hovinbyen: Kjelsrud, Hasle, Vulkan and Kabelgaten)
  • Central topic: Transforming for Intensified Use
  • Programme


What is the fringe of Oslo?

In numbers

Oslo is the capital and largest city of Norway. The city area is 454 km² and counts 647 670 inhabitants. Its metropolitan area is 8300 km² and counts 1 546 706 inhabitants. In conclusion, the density of the city area (1.426 inh/km²) is 12 times higher than the metropolitan area (118 inh/km²).


The population in Oslo and Akershus  is expected to increase with 350 000 people over the next 20 years. The number of jobs is expected to increase by 8 000 to 9 000 each year. Oslo cannot expand outside the borders, being surrounded by the sea and a large national protected area. The municipality decided that the growth of the city should be absorded inside the urban fabric. Hovinbyen, a large industrial and retail area, is targeted as the area that will transform in the coming decade into a qualitative mixed urban environment.

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Hovinbyen: a mix of detached houses, industry and large retail.



“Hovinbyen is now on the map of the city planning department, but if you would ask a taxi driver to take you to Hovinbyen, he would not know where to go.”

This quote by Silje Gjertrud Hoftun says it all. For urban planners Hovinbyen is already on their visual map of Oslo, but for the people who live there it is not. One of the greatest challenges is to make this part of the Oslo fringe known and attractive.

The city planners of Oslo have decided to work on two different levels. One level is the strategic plan of Hovinbyen, the other level encompasses five sites: Kjelsrud, Hasle, Haraldrud, Vollebekk and Bryn. These pilot sites are test cases to work together with different stakeholders on implementation projects. The strategic plan should guide the test cases, but the pilot site should also influence or test the strategic plan. 

Click here for the presentation on Hovinbyen and here for the Oslo presentation.

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During the TM we visited most of these sites with the project leaders, architects and developers.

In Vollebekk, the Oslo team organised an event together with the Oslo Architect Society. They invited two architectural firms: Rodeo Architects - a local firm working on the edge of architecture, urbanism and social science - and Tredje Natur - an architectural firm based in Copenhagen. The inspirational speakers gave an interpretation of the urban fringe and  showed their work in similar contexts.

The presentations were hosted in an old hangar, and included an exhibition of the fringe areas of all partners of our network. The event was sold out and attracted 200 visitors, putting the spotlight on Hovinbyen.

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Inspirational speakers, an exhibition and a food truck in the fringe of Oslo.



Oslo and Solin worked together to organise different thematic sessions around the Local Action Plans (LAP) and to learn more on the topic of the Transnational Meeting through in-depth sessions.

Why is the intensification of use a solution for the urban fringe?
Intensifying use means inserting more activity in the existing space. This can be accomplished by three methods. Firstly, you can construct more buildings. This densification is necessary in some of our partner cities, making urban fringes more compact. Secondly, you can focus on creating mixed environments by inserting different amenities and workplaces. Thirdly, you can focus on the multiple use of spaces, which focuses more on the use and management of spaces. 

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Vulkan is an inspiring example of mixing functions

Vulkan site, a smart mixed use development

Vulkan is a new project site close to the Oslo city centre. Forerunner project developer Sverre Landmark guided the sub>urban network through the site, which is a far-reaching example of mixed use. Not only is there a mix of functions going from a supermarket, apartments, offices, restaurants and a food hall, meeting places, sports facilities, a hotel and conference centre, the mix of use also translates into a more ecological use of energy and a shared parking system.

More information:



The Oslo team organised a model making exercise on the 5 pilot cases. The teams were an interesting mix of local stakeholders, architects, project developers and the sub>urban network. The exercise was preceded by a game of Pictionary, getting to know each other and discussing each other’s vocabulary. The Vice Mayor Hanna E. Marcussen and the Head of Department Ellen de Vibe was there to look at the work and listen to the discussion.

Peter Austin talking about the playful method:

“In the tradition of finding low-threshold ways of getting people to communicate, this is a recognized step towards dialogue and creativity. Sometimes called Planning for Real, this technique can be a good way of breaking down barriers, involving very different people, and thinking outside the box of professionals. There's more on the net, e.g., and research over many years about planning participation.”

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The Vice Mayor, talking with the participants about the models and the pilot sites. She gave an inspiring speech to the stakeholders and the network.  


More pictures on the Transnational Meeting in Oslo: click here

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