Kvadraturen Towers
Revitalizing the heart of Oslo


Architecture, Landscape Architecture


Inspired by the skyline of the Italian town San Gimignano, Snøhetta has designed an urban development proposal for the area Kvadraturen in the Norwegian capital, Oslo. With a series of slim, medium-high towers placed within the backyards of existing buildings, the project aims to bring new life to a slightly forgotten part of the city. Located behind the medieval castle Akershus Fortress, the area Kvadraturen connects the seafront to downtown Oslo and the Central Station.

Technical details

Residential, Park & Garden, Public Space, Sustainability, Workspace, Mixed Use
Design Proposal
Oslo, Norway

Bonheur, Fred Olsen 

3000 m2

Photo: Snøhetta

An urban, vertical layer

Following a city fire in 1624, Kvadraturen was identified by King Christian IV as where the new city should arise, and it became a pulsating heart of the city. Several architectural layers and extensions towards the streets have been added over the years. However, today, the area is characterized by empty streets and few public functions after business hours. The ambition of this project has been to add a new vertical layer to the area, building housing upwards while keeping the buildings' footprint to a minimum and opening up the spaces on ground level for public functions.

A strategic city planning tool

Inspired by the skyline of the Italian town San Gimignano, the proposal includes a series of slim, medium-high towers placed within the backyards of existing building structures. Each tower is programmed with public and commercial functions on the lower floors and a residential program with great views on the upper floors. In this way, the project becomes a strategic city planning tool for bringing residents into an area that mostly consists of office buildings and non-accessible backyards today. By bringing more housing into the area, Kvadraturen can once again be filled with people – also outside of rush hour.

Photo: Aestetica

Pilot tower and a yellow quarter

The pilot tower project is a slim tower designed in the client's quarter, and it is sculpted to adapt to existing historical buildings that are all yellow. The existing fenced courtyard is opened up to the public, and the new tower is set back to create more space at street level. The new public accessible space invites people into a new green pocket park. The new yellow tower has a lower façade towards the street and a taller part that is pulled back into the courtyard to create a new layer of architecture that strengthens and revitalizes the neighboring historic buildings. The opening up of the courtyard focuses on the social aspect of the streets, including functions such as shops, cafes, and smaller businesses at the street level.

Energy-producing building

The facades are strategically clad with solar panels to produce enough energy to cover about 60% of the energy need of the new pilot tower, including energy use for electricity, heating, and cooling.

Photo: Snøhetta