Drawn by one of the notable modernist architects in Norway, architect Harald Hals, the apartment building Torshov Kvartal VIII in Oslo is one of the largest municipal housing facilities from 1920. Social housing and garden cities in Europe inspired its master plan. At the heart of this backyard, an uninviting private building, earlier an electricity supplier was standing locked for 85 years.
The building’s owner was contacted and different social objectives were drafted. This was the start of a 6-year common process aiming to turn the electricity supplier into a common house for the benefit of the whole neighborhood, which consists of 180 families. A building program was established alongside a webpage and an open process of mapping all relevant human sources, both amateur and professionals. This gave us a huge advantage as no funding was on the table.
The electric supplier is buried besides the building and the space is released for a variety of use. Today, the 75sqm contains a common space, kitchen, bathroom and a mezzanine for overnight guests. The new space offers possibilities for all ages and it is occupied 75 % of the week and hosts all ages and all kind of events: funeral, weddings, baptisms, confirmations, children’s birthdays, corporate parties, adult parties, project meetings, board meetings, Christmas parties, theme nights, movie nights, sporting events, exhibitions, sales issue, flea market, education, opera evenings etc.
Place: Torshov Kvartal VIII Oslo, Norway
Architect: Haugen/Zohar Arkitekter AS
Project team: Marit Justine Haugen, Audun Aagre, Kai Hansen, Dan Zohar
Client: local neighborhood
Budget: limited, based on voluntarily common efforts
Making process: 2005-2011