DNB Bank Headquarters


Dutch studio MVRDV has given the new Oslo headquarters for Norwegian bank DNB a pixellated appearance by building a stack of brick and glass cubes (+ slideshow).

DNB Bank Headquarters by MVRDV

The irregular arrangement of the six-metre wide cubes creates recessed openings across the facade, which MVRDV has used to add sheltered terraces to each floor and a new route from the waterfront towards the nearby railway station.

DNB Bank Headquarters by MVRDV

"We started with a massive slab and by removing pixels one by one we were able to create an arcade, terraces, a public passage, etcetera," project architect Jeroen Zuidgeest told Dezeen. "By carving out volumes, we made sure every floor has access to interior and exterior terraces."

DNB Bank Headquarters by MVRDV

The DNB Bank Headquarters is located within the waterfront development of Bjørvika Barcode that MVRDV masterplanned in collaboration with Norwegian architects A-Lab and Dark Arkitekter. Each studio has designed one building for the bank and MVRDV's is the first to complete.

DNB Bank Headquarters by MVRDV

At 17 storeys high, the building provides over 2000 flexible work spaces for employees and each floor accommodates a series of glass cubes where staff can hold informal meetings, have lunches or take phone calls.

DNB Bank Headquarters by MVRDV

Wooden bridges and staircases connect the floors both inside and outside, and it is possible to walk up one side of the building to the canteen and then back down on the other side.

DNB Bank Headquarters by MVRDV

"On one hand, you have this proud, strong iconography, and on the other hand you're offered social spaces and human character on every floor," said Zuidgeest. "None of the floors are the same and when you manoeuvre through the building you experience how each floor has its own character and qualities; each one has its own surprises."

DNB Bank Headquarters by MVRDV

The building is already in use, although the complex is scheduled to open officially in May 2013.

DNB Bank Headquarters by MVRDV

Above: photograph is by Jeroen Musch

MVRDV has designed a few buildings with pixellated volumes, including a pair of skyscrapers that caused controversy for bearing a resemblance to the exploding World Trade Centre on 9/11. See more projects by MVRDV »

DNB Bank Headquarters by MVRDV

Above: photograph is by Jereon Musch

Photography is by Jiri Havran, apart from where otherwise stated.

DNB Bank Headquarters by MVRDV

Here's the full project description from MVRDV:

MVRDV completes DNB Bank Headquarters main building in Oslo

The central building of DNB’s new bank headquarter cluster developed by Oslo S Utvikling (OSU) is completed. The MVRDV designed main building has 17 unique floors and a surface of 36,500m2. The pixelated volume based on small-scale working units adapts to the various influences of the urban context, combining an efficient and flexible internal organisation with a variety of specific communal spaces such as the main entrance lobby, a transparent trading floor, a sheltered public passage, respect for urban view lines and collective terraces overlooking the fjord to the south. The glass and brick exterior expresses both the transparency and stability of DNB as a modern financial institution.

DNB Bank Headquarters by MVRDV

Above: photograph is by Jeroen Musch

The development of the new headquarter cluster is a strategic operation concentrating the DNB offices formerly spread out over Oslo at one location, aiming for synergy and a clear identity. The objective was to translate the social and democratic character of the organisation into a building with excellent working conditions and spatial qualities that would stimulate efficiency, identity and collaboration.

The design is based on an ideal work group of the bank, a pixel of 6x6 metres, whose versatility permits adaptation to the flexible nature of the organisation. Besides more than 2,000 flexible work spaces the building contains a panoramic 140 seat canteen on the top level, the executive lounge with a view over the fjord, the board room, in the heart of the volume DNB's trading room with 250 work stations, and the main entrance with the reception and access to the concourse that connects to the two neighbouring volumes. The collective spaces are connected by a staggered continuous internal route of collective terraces, all being executed as glass pixels, encouraging informal meetings and communication between employees.

DNB Bank Headquarters by MVRDV

Above: photograph is by Jeroen Musch

This route meanders from the reception upwards through the building, connecting all 17 levels office levels with the communal areas. A series of wooden stairs and bridges allow employees to switch levels or even to walk up to the canteen on one side of the building and down on the other side. The route accommodates communal areas to the office floors and is made homely with a series of pantries, informal meeting areas, reading-rooms, lounges and fire places. It gives access to the various outdoor terraces and roof gardens. All these collective spaces offer views to the surroundings and transparency from out side. The route is naturally ventilated and has a high performance glass fit for the cold Norwegian winter.

The generic office floors recline and are recessed in various places to answer to the urban context creating communal indoor and outdoor areas and outstanding daylight conditions. At street level the building volume is opened to give space to sheltered entrance zones, and intersected by a public passage creating a public route between Oslo Central Station and the fjord. The pixelated design allows this specific response whilst being highly efficient and flexible. As a result, every floor of the building is both unique and generic: the pixelated volume makes the generic specific.

DNB Bank Headquarters by MVRDV

Above: photograph is by Jeroen Musch

The structure is conceived as a steel rack wrapped in a brick skin, covering all exterior terraces, walls and ceilings with bricks, which adopts Norwegian environmental standards and gives a human scale to the building. It appears as a rock, a strong shape within the boundaries of the Barcode.

The international Norwegian financial institution DNB decided to concentrate their twenty office locations currently dispersed over the city in the Bjørvika Barcode, an urban plan by MVRDV / DARK / a-lab next to Oslo Central Station. In 2007, the masterplan team was commissioned by developer OSU to design the urban concept for DNB’s headquarter complex. A new cluster of three volumes (80.000m2) and a common basement with a 3,000m2 underground concourse, which interlinks the three buildings of the bank, was developed. MVRDV was commissioned as architect for the central main building and co-responsible for the urban concept and concourse.

DNB Bank Headquarters by MVRDV

Above: photograph is by Jeroen Musch

MVRDV has collaborated with Norwegian co-architect DARK Arkitekter AS and various Norwegian engineering firms. Project management is executed by Norwegian firm Vedal Project AS. The second building of the DNB cluster is designed by A-lab and the third building by Dark Arkitekter, within the overall Bjørvika Barcode masterplan. The cluster will be officially opened May 14th 2013.

DNB is the largest financial services group in Norway. The Group consists of brands such as DNB, Vital, Nordlandsbanken, Cresco, Postbanken, DnB NORD and Carlson. In 2003, MVRDV, together with Norwegian firms Dark and a-lab, won the competition for the Bjørvika waterfront development with the design of the Bjørvika Barcode; a dense, open and differentiated urban master plan along Nyland Allé, that is developed and realised by OSU in phases. DNB Life Insurance (DNB Scandinavian Property Fund) bought the 3 buildings last year for 4,8 billion Norwegian krone.

  • It’s like Minecraft.

  • Todd

    Great to see a “pixelated'” building actually get built! Now we know the real-world consequences of these “conceptual” approaches, can we please proceed with making true architecture and leave these pathetic diagrams to the pixel-world?

    • peter


      Please expand. What is true architecture? Why do you think the pixel is a pathetic diagram?

      The only thing I find pathetic is the empty and negative criticisms that are posted to this site by users like yourself.

      • flytoget

        Peter, I suggest you take a tour to Barcode, Oslo, and see what Todd´s trying to convey. A vapid architectural wet dream with mediocre execution. It creates outer spaces that have absolutely zero positive impact on their immediate surroundings and, needless to say, people. Notice the vivid absence of images depicting the entire structure. That should be telling.

        • marco

          Me too. I’ve never understood the sudden simulatious adoptation of the PixelCloud by OMA, MVRDV and all the others.

          It’s not a matter of cynism: I’ve been educated in the wave of great Dutch conceptual architecture, I have a great appreciation of the intelligence that is the foundation of this diagrammatic architecture. Architecture as consequence of functional/conceptual diagrams as consequence of intelligent argumentation; even when the result was unsettling to many, it was untouchable for all of the architecture was about was defending its argumentation. Its unsettlingness helped us open our horizons, help us realise our dogmatism, channel the potential of all the things we choose to overlook, to re-invent.

          Now this is where I get lost regarding the PixelCloud. It’s a fomalistic diagram without even the slightest ambition of an argumentation. It echoes the neo-structuralism BIG introduced with The Mountain – arguably the last rare piece of excellent conceptual architecture – but it never honestly defends it.

          The conceptual wave has gradually stupified and we got used to this hollow formalism that wins competitions by its spectacularity. But still it is astonishing to see a diagram like this – a diagram that’s rather mediocre in many qualities – being adopted simultaniously by so many offices for so many projects.

      • Todd

        Dear Peter,

        Thanks for your reply. I put it boldly to evoke such a reaction and I’m happy to expand. Just to free myself of the box you put me in: I’m not cynical and dig 95% of the projects posted on Dezeen.

        However, I think this proposal is too banal, too literal if you wish, to belong in the realm of architecture (apart from the fact that it is built of course). It is merely a constructed diagram; in my opinion, a quiet literal and one-dimensional one.

        The outcome is hard to comment on as an act of architecture. Some crucial aspects are missing or unaddressed; it does not seem to have a beginning nor end of the building in any direction, no awareness of its environment, no composition based on any philosophy except for the “diagram”, no detailling , no richness and a basic lack of proportions (what happened underneath the cantilevered blocks?)

        That’s what I meant by claiming this scheme is hard to comment on; I think it’s part of another realm. Another discipline.

        Just not to be misunderstood: I do think architecture can be enriched by relating to other disciplines, even the most distant ones, but one should always make a “translation” to make the built entity more relevant, rich and worth visiting. I’ve been to the site and was overwhelmed by the simplistic outcome and old-fashioned approach.

        Yeah, and what is true architecture? Damn I like those kind of questions; what is true literature, what is true art? True life? Maybe it was just a simple adjective to spice things up a little :-)


      • Julius Jääskeläinen

        I think “tectonic” and “human scale” are the words he is looking for.

        I understand the sentiment, but somehow I like MVRDV’s brand of diagram-ism because of their deliberate blocky clumsiness.

        I feel there is a double meaning, a critique of the way our decision-makers are in love with diagrams that make everything seem dynamic, easy, FUN – and alienated from the reality of construction, of working and living, and of physics.

    • Danies

      Is it true? Is Perum Peruri Indonesia going to build a tower?

  • Zaedrus

    I think the interiors are exquisite, but I’ll be happy when the Q-bert phase championed by MVRDV passes. The idea is overplayed and only compelling enough to execute once, by my eye. Hit it and quit it.

  • kubo

    This turned out much better than I thought it would. Especially love the first shot of the main entrance.

  • Serge

    Better to explore the idea of “pixelated”buildings in this way than in twin towers proposed for South Korea.

  • Bugis

    There is something warm and inviting about the interiors that seems as if it could really help people who work there stave off the worst effects of seasonal affective disorder, but it still seems professional.

  • Rene

    And the interior architect on all three buildings is the Norwegian company ZINC.

  • Donkey

    Good to see brick back as a surface. Too much glass and steel these days.

  • Gwen

    I think it is quite astonishing to see a discussion focusing on the diagram – hollow or not – when the building apparently offers so much extra value compared to most office buildings.

    They are usually a collection of identical floors with a decorative facade. This one totally questions this typology. The users are hardly ever noticed. Developers and architects impose spaces onto people and I am often in bland spaces, boring beyond belief, so we should be grateful for any attempt to break out of the bland 95% of the built environment. Why is old architecture loved so much? For its quirkiness and personal feel.

  • Kenneth Smythe

    Architecture outside the box without being in your face. The design is thoughtful inside and out.

  • bert

    The tragic thing is that they don’t show you any image of the full facade, because It really makes you want to start crying when looking upon it. You get (only) a slight idea of what I’m talking about if you look at the waterfront picture.

  • Sultony

    Why put all this energy into a monument of social destruction – ie, a bank?

  • Archangel

    What a shame. The bank is already cracking.

  • Napoleon

    Could have been nice facades, but all the shiny aluminium railings needed to access all the windows destroy it! These are not shown on the pics of course. Due to the “pixel” concept – and bad planning maybe – they are on almost every floor. Disappointing!

    A better point of view to illustrate my comment: http://www.flickr.com/photos/evahodneland/7439066

  • Robert

    I have to agree with a number of comments by people that are not impressed by this. It is one-dimensional in its thinking. Relied too heavy then on the talents of the interior designer and created a “one-liner” in terms of architecture. Finally, the image from the water shows a very typical building with very little character. I saw this back in the 80s in small backward towns in Canada. It was then considered innovative compared to the rest of the lacklustre architecture, but now… well now I think we need to expect more than a one-liner.