Designed by Juell and Scheen in 1933 as a core Vinmonopolet distillery, the development transforms 45,000 m2 of obsolete floorspace into a vibrant and social hub at the heart of Hasle Linje, an area situated just east of Oslo city centre.
From the outset, the design team sought to subordinate their intervention behind the imposing nature of the existing architecture. The original building essentially comprised a rectangular, peripheral red-brick volume. Despite its deep plan – and the resulting challenge of daylight admittance – the existing structure was transformed into residential apartments accompanied by a dramatic and generous courtyard at its center. The courtyard comprises both private and shared external space of a scale rarely afforded in new residential development. Located on the second level, the courtyard sits above commercial, hospitality and retail functions located on the ground floor. In addition, three storeys of new construction are placed atop the existing peripheral volume, the recessed facades and contemporary material palette of the new complimenting and yet contrasting with the old.
Despite its challenges, the existing structure offered the potential for creative and unorthodox residential design. 220 unique and individual apartments have been achieved: ranging from compact studios afforded with generous height and mezzanine levels, to spacious penthouses with expansive roof terraces; from two-storey garden maisonettes to multi-storey atrium configurations, all meticulously woven together behind the retained facades of the original building. Generous entrance spaces and a subtly articulated hierarchy between public, shared and private space leads to a legible and coherent architecture throughout the scheme.
The original building was designed as a distillery for Vinmonopolet. The compact volume with small light shafts was planned with the intention of possibly converting it into a prison. So the current plan to transform the building into an attractive apartment building may seem impossible. By demolishing the midsection of the original building we open the volume up and let in light and air, giving all apartments facing inwards a view into a lively urban garden the size of a large football field. The demolished volume will be replaced by three new floors on top of the existing building.