Ormoya Island : Densely Private

Analysis and proposal for future urban development on the island Ormøya, Oslo Fjord, Norway.

This project aims for re-conception of the urban plan at the island Ormøya.
It focuses on dichotomies such as public/private, relationship between environment and object and object and object. Another issue addressed is the use of very private spaces in the public domain and their need for the society.


Ormoya is an inhabited island in the inner part of Oslo fjord, in the municipality of Oslo. It covers an area of 0.18 sq.km. (0.069 sq.mi.) with estimate terrain elevation above sea level 34 m.
Latitude : 59°52’36.99”
Longitude : 10°45’37.01”
The islands monument of cultural heritage is the Ormøy Church, designed by architect Bernhard Steckmest, was built in the 1890s.

Due to its topography as an island, with typical features such as limited access, limited territory, need for protection of the natural resources, Ormøya has established itself as a place of `refuge`. Nevertheless its close proximity to the city center, tranquility and beautiful views have opened a trend of densification and subsequently sudden rising of land value. As a consequence building plots are being subdivided and sold separately.

A conflict occurs when the processes of densification meet the desire for peace. In their strive for privacy the owners of the subdivided plots tend to rise the level of their buildings in order to isolate themselves from the sight of their immediate neighbors and/or to acquire a better view over the fjord, which leads to change in the natural terrain and vegetation of the island.

To address the above explained issues, this project proposes a series of private spaces in the public domain – or the other way around – a public space for private use. This is achieved through reduction of the unit size, introduction of short-term program (temporary programs) and intensification of the relation man-nature (attitude as if from magnifying glass : study closely, but do not distress).

 The design process is initiated with evaluation of the slope of the natural landscape. This evaluation serves further as a map for distribution of volumes, associated with that typology. To each of those volumes a growth algorithm (L-System) is applied, whose parameters are in correspondence with the natural terrain. Afterwards the resulting general field is further differentiated and evaluated on a series of objectives concerning an objects relationship with its environment (sunlight and wind flow data) and its immediate neighbors. The result is a differentiated and optimized volumetric field.
Within the field certain sub-clusters are found with different architectural qualities. Due to their different relationship with the surrounding, the volumes are enclosed in different ways (solid, frame or platform). These typological differences within a cluster, or group form, as defined by Fumihiko Maki in his Investigations in Collective Form, lead to either inclusions or exclusions of shared space and produce intricate interior situations.
References :
–  Investigations in Collective Form, Fumihiko Maki, Washington University School of Architecture 1964

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