The modernist Icon will shine again
When the US wanted a new embassy in Oslo after World War II, they hired the renowned architect Eero Saarinen. He was given a triangular plot, and designed a triangular embassy, filled with beautiful interior details – many of them with the shape of a triangles. It was a beautiful, black, shining building. The architect wanted it to resemble “a gentleman in formal attire”. He would later call it one of his most important works.
After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the embassy was hidden behind large fences. It soon felt more like a monument of war than its original idea – a monument of friendship. When the US decided to move out of the city center to build a new and more modern embassy, Saarinens masterpiece was put on sale. The unique building became listed, and anyone wanting to buy the property, had to respect its heritage – and limitations. When Fredensborg bought it in 2017, they did it with great humility. Lund Hagem architects and Atelier Oslo was given the task to both repatriate and develop the building. Together with Fredensborg and the Cultural Heritage Management Office, they have come up with solutions that secures both the aesthetic qualities and the history of the building.
Opening in 2021, the restored embassy will shine once again, as the open and welcoming house that Saarinen wanted it to be. Fredensborg will move its headquarters there, but parts of the house will be open to the public, so that the people of Oslo can experience the magic of Saarinens architecture. From the heart of the building, the beautiful atrium with the small pool, to the roof, hopefully with a bar and a small restaurant. Fredensborg are dreaming of a new library, art exhibitions, or maybe a museum. On the roof a restaurant and a rooftop terrace overlooking The Oslofjord and The Palace Park. The idea is that the citizens of Oslo should be given the opportunity to enjoy the Embassy like they did in the 70s, when more than 6.500 people held a card to the library.
The embassy is located across the street from The Royal Palace and The Norwegian Nobel Institute, and is close to Solli Plass and Vika area. The city tram, train and metro station are also just across the street.
About The Embassy
Location Henrik Ibsens gate 48, Oslo
Total area 5.975 / 8.130 sq m
Contractor Fredensborg AS
Completion 1959 / 2021
Sustainability BREEAM-NOR Very Good
Architect Lund Hagem Arkitekter and Atelier Oslo