Oslo, a new step for the city – port relationship

Published by  5 January, 2016 2:31 pm Leave your thoughts

Vidar_Fiskum_110A contribution of Vidar Fiskum, Project Manager, Department of Urban Development, Oslo Port Authority, Norway.

Oslo Port Authority is member of AIVP since 1992.

The work undertaken in 2005 on the Tjuvholmen sector marked the real starting point of the “Fjord City” project. The developments have been completed in 2014 across Tjuvholmen and redevelopment work has been also largely completed for the Bjorvika sector and its iconic Opera House. For now, the two remaining sectors – Vippetangen and Filipstad – are still mainly given over to port activity. The situation is set to evolve quickly, however, particularly in the case of Filipstad. So it’s a good time to take stock with Vidar Fiskum, Project Manager – Department of Urban Development, Oslo Port Autorithy.

While the mechanics workshops and shipyard in the Aker Brygge sector were converted for new purposes in the 1980s, the real change in the Oslo waterfront began following discussions between the Port and City in the mid 1990s, and the inclusion in the national transport plan adopted in 2004 of the port’s strategic plan for 2003-2011. The main orientations adopted were involving:

  • ferry and cruise activity remaining in the heart of the city;
  • port activities being relocated (particularly one of the container terminals) close to the city centre and concentrated in the SouthPort zone;
  • some 50 hectares of the land freed up as a result, being earmarked for urban use;
  • reinvesting proceeds from the sale of port land in efforts to transform the port and its new projects.

The Tjuvholmen sector is being used as a pilot, and work undertaken in 2005 will mark the starting point of the “Fjord City” project and the operations planned for the various sectors identified along the fjord.

The developments completed in 2014 across Tjuvholmen’s 51 hectares have earned a Global Award for Excellence from the Urban Land Institute. The Bjorvika sector, where redevelopment work has been largely completed, is now internationally identified as a cultural district, home to the iconic Opera House designed by Snohetta, along with the Museum of Modern Art designed by Renzo Piano at Tjuvholmen. In 2018, the Munch Museum designed by Herreros Arquitectos is expected to open its doors, next to the Opera House.
For now, the two remaining sectors – Vippetangen and Filipstad – are still mainly given over to port activity. The situation is set to evolve quickly, however, particularly in the case of Filipstad. So it’s a good time to take stock with Vidar Fiskum, Project Manager – Department of Urban Development, Oslo Port Authority.


AIVP – Vippetangen is currently home to significant port activities including, in particular, grain silos, cruise quays and an international ferry terminal. What are the main orientations planned for this sector? Based on what timeframe?

Vidar Fiskum – In the future, only the ferry terminal and the cruise quays still will be located at Vippetangen. The new Harbour Promenade will link the passenger facilities directly to the city centre and the new developing areas around our new Opera House, which is extremely popular amongst our tourists and inhabitants of Oslo in general. At Vippetangen, there will additionally be built new public attractions, commercial spaces, restaurants and shops. Though it is important for us, that Vippetangen maintains a rough and “harbouresque” impression; different from the glossier development areas in Bjørvika and Tjuvholmen. We struggle to keep a differentness between our developing areas, and to make every new district to grow its own soul.

AIVP – The container terminal at Filipstad has been relocated and developments should start soon in the sector. There is currently a ferry terminal there, and there are plans for a cruise terminal to handle increasing passenger traffic: the strategic plan for the period leading up to 2030 estimates that passenger numbers passing through Oslo will rise by 40%. What solutions do you intend to adopt in order to ensure a proper mix with the urban developments planned for the sector, in terms of the environment, security and opening up the site to the local population?

Vidar Fiskum – In fact, the container terminal at Filipstad was relocated to the South Port 10 years ago, now Filipstad is filled with all other types of cargo. As Oslo is growing rapidly, so is also the port activity and every square meter are filled with some kind of port activity. In order to the rising passenger numbers in Oslo, we expect public transport by boat to take main parts of the growth. We will build new quays for public transport, closely to hubs at land, to provide an easy flow between water and land based transport systems. We also expect some growth in international passenger transport, and are preparing our quays to accommodate larger ships. Additional to improving our infrastructure, we are building our public relations by arranging the annual happening “By the Quay” (Havnelangs) every first Sunday of June. At Havnelangs we, our customers and clients, are exhibiting the broad amount of activities and services provided to the city by the port.

AIVP – Will other port facilities also be maintained at the site, and if so, what solutions will be put in place to ensure compatibility between urban and port uses?

Vidar Fiskum – In the city centre, we only want passenger related transport or harbour activity that not requires ISPS. At our ferry terminals, there will be permanent ISPS-facilities in due to our all year around ferry services. At our cruise quays, mainly used during the summer, there are not at the same level demand of permanent ISPS-facilities. So it is important for us to open these quays up for public use, when we have no visiting cruise ship at quay. The fact that we open our quay the minute the cruise ship leaves, we believe are the main argument to still be able to provide a cruise destination right in the heart of our city centre.

AIVP – Filipstad has a strong maritime and port identity. Will that identity be preserved, and if so how? For example, was the sector included in your port heritage plan?

Vidar Fiskum – As mentioned earlier, every new district needs to grow its own soul to be a valuable and popular supplement to the city web. To ease the breed of the areas soul, we preserve some of the existent harbour buildings and cranes. We have done a thorough job of preparing our heritage plan, and now it is easy for us to pin point the buildings and elements we need to preserve for the future.
Despite years of different port activity at Filipstad, there are not many traces of the port activity left, other than the quay itself, that was constructed in the 18 hundreds. Our heritage plan is mentioning these quays, and we will also preserve parts of a coffee roster building at site, that was built in the 1950’s. There are also a discussion with the planning office of preserving an office building built in the 1960’s, where we want to keep most of our port history at site and the planning office wants to demolish the building to make room for a broader street through the new district.
But additionally to these buildings, we want to preserve former common “Oslo-cranes” at Filipstad, that was built in hundreds and placed along all quays if Oslo. Now there are only three left, located at Filipstad.

AIVP – As the biggest landowner in Filipstad, the Port of Oslo has unveiled its own development programme for the zone. Is this programme an alternative to the other proposals put forward, in particular that of the City of Oslo’s Planning and Building Service? Could you briefly outline the main lines of your programme, and explain how it differs from the City of Oslo’s plans? And how are you working with the City of Oslo to adjust viewpoints?

Vidar Fiskum – We have a good dialogue with the planning office, and there has been an agreement to make separate proposals for Filipstad, that we think are strengthening the democracy and decisional process at the city hall. It is healthy for our democratic system, that the politicians have different proposals to decide from.
The planning strategies are quite similar; a modern and efficient ferry terminal are located in the western part of Filipstad, the CBD of Oslo expands into the eastern area, and the areas between the CBD and terminal are mainly prepared for residential areas.
However, we think it is possible to build a good new neighbourhood without having to change the main layout of the highway through the area. Where the planning office wants to put the highway under the ground and sea-level in an extremely costly tunnel, we want to build a row of office buildings to reduce the impact of noise in the city areas.

AIVP – What conclusions have you drawn from the now completed development work on other parts of the waterfront, and how will the plans for Filipstad complement what has already been achieved at Tjuvholmen or Bjorvika? To take one example, iconic buildings such as the Opera House mentioned earlier have already been created in other waterfront sectors. Are others needed in Filipstad?

Vidar Fiskum – We have noticed that the waterfront are highly popular especially during the brief Norwegian summertime. There are a high demand for parks, beaches and water sports in the former harbour areas. At Filipstad, we will build a new large city park, and the largest beach and sea water pools, to make sure we have enough capacity and space for recreational activity during summer time.  It is important for us to ensure that the areas we leave behind, as the port activity moves out, is of high urban and architectural quality, which is to benefit of the population, and that gives us a good reputation and legacy. When we speak about landmarks, at Filipstad we want to build a high rise iconic building that marks the western boundary of the city centre. What this building will look like, will be decided by an architectural competition to come.

AIVP – Finally, Norway has announced it aims to cut its CO2 emissions by 50% by 2030, and the country hopes to be carbon neutral by 2050. The City of Oslo itself has strong environmental ambitions. What practical measures do you intend to take – notably in the Filipstad zone – to respond to the challenge of climate change, whether in terms of carbon footprints, or the risk of floods and rising sea levels?

Vidar Fiskum – We will try to reduce the amount of transport made by cars, by offer only a limited amount of parking space, and link the new urban areas into Oslo’s rapidly growing public transport network. The streets of Filipstad will be designed with focus on bikes and pedestrians. We also have made a Quality Plan for Filipstad, that pin points focus areas to reduce environmental impact, such as pollution from the building phase, low energy demands in the heating season, none carbon use heating systems, etc. In due to the rising sea levels, new measurements are predicting that the land uplift, ongoing since the last ice age, in northern Scandinavia more or less will follow the rising sea levels. At the moment we just are building new buildings at a ground level that prohibits damage from a 100 years flood.


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