Restoring a historic canal


Landscape Architecture


The Norwegian coastal city of Arendal, historically referred to as Venice of the Nordics, once consisted of seven separate islands. Over the past 100 years, the bays between the islands have been filled in. In 2021, Snøhetta was commissioned to explore how one of the city’s old canals could be brought back.

Technical details

Public Space
Design Proposal
Arendal, Norway


Photo: Plomp

With a concentration of urban spaces on the eastern part of town, the current city center can be perceived as dense, leaving the western part of town more vacant. The new canal creates a strategic connection between east and west, establishing a network of blue-green urban spaces and dynamically tying together the city center with a unifying promenade. The design provides several new bridges for both cars and pedestrians.

The canal is designed in a way that creates a unified expression with granite edges and each stretch of the promenade adjusted to resemble its immediate surroundings. The adjacent urban spaces will be refreshed with several new, green qualities such as trees and perennial plantings.

The rebirth of the canal and the new urban spaces in Arendal reignites the history of Arendal as a city of canals. It further provides a unique way of handling the drainage of surface water for an otherwise densely built area. Traces from the old canal can be found underground, with several old canal stones of different sizes. The project aims to reuse the old canal stones, incorporating them in the canal edges, gracefully tying together the city’s past with its future.

Photo: Plomp