A-Lab adds pixelated tower to Oslo's new waterfront development

A-Lab adds pixelated tower with a hollow centre to Oslo's new waterfront development

A huge terrace appears to have been carved out of the pixelated body of this mixed-use building in Oslo by Norwegian firm by A-Lab – one of the buildings that make up the city's waterfront Barcode Project (+ movie).

The Carve by A-Lab
Photograph by Ivan Brodey

Named The Carve, the 15-storey complex is the second of three buildings in the high-rise development that will be occupied by financial company DNB, following the pixellated headquarters building completed by MVRDV in 2012.

A-Lab, whose projects include an office complex resembling a pile of horizontal skyscrapers, was given a long and narrow plot to create eight floors of offices and seven levels of apartments.

The Carve by A-Lab
Photograph by Ivan Brodey

Under the conditions of the masterplan, the architects were also obliged to create terraces and gardens that equate to 50 per cent of the building's overall footprint.

The Carve by A-Lab
Photograph by Ivan Brodey

They achieved this by hollowing out a section of the building on the upper levels, creating a generous sheltered terrace that also helps to break down the overall mass of the structure.

The Carve by A-Lab

"The mixed program is structured compacting the flexible office spaces in an efficient machine and optimising the views and outdoor spaces of the apartments around a raised, covered garden," said the design team in a statement.

The Carve by A-Lab

The exterior of the building is clad in non-rectilinear slabs of white marble that create the illusion of a three-dimensional surface. To contrast, recessed facades are covered in timber panels.

The Carve by A-Lab

"Borrowing the body analogy, the materiality of the building can be analysed in its three layers: skin, muscle and bone," said the architects.

The Carve by A-Lab

"The white Spanish marble represents the skin. The incisions in this shape reveal the composite wood panel surfaces – the muscle. And at last the opening through the covered garden exposes the hefty steel structure – the bones relaying the massive vertical forces back towards the ground," they said.

The Carve by A-Lab

A public passage cuts through the middle of the building at ground and first-floor level, accommodating entrances to the residential floors. It also links up with a route that passes through all Barcode buildings to connect them with Oslo station and the city centre beyond.

The Carve by A-Lab

Like MVRDV's building next door, the office floors were designed as an "open landscape" of cellular offices and large break-out spaces that allow for a flexible variety of layouts.

The Carve by A-Lab

The thick facades ensure the spaces are well-insulated, but also allow enough daylight to permeate the interior.

The Carve by A-Lab
Photograph by Morten Knudsen

On the residential levels, the storeys are tiered to create space for rooftop gardens on each level, many of which offer grand views of the Oslo Fjord.

The Carve by A-Lab
Photograph by Morten Knudsen

"The lack of visible structural elements in the housing levels – except for the glass elevator – was a battle worth fighting for," said A-Lab. "This early design control allowed for a clearer hierarchy regarding material use and project expression."

The Carve by A-Lab
Photograph by Einar Horsberg

The Carve and its neighbouring Barcode buildings form part of Oslo's developing Opera Quarter, which will eventually become the city's new Central Business District.

The Carve by A-Lab

Photography is by Luis Fonseca, apart from where otherwise indicated.

The Carve by A-Lab
Massing diagram – click for larger image
The Carve by A-Lab
Concept diagrams – click for larger image
The Carve by A-Lab
Site plan – click for larger image
The Carve by A-Lab
Ground floor plan – click for larger image
The Carve by A-Lab
Fourth floor plan – click for larger image
The Carve by A-Lab
Eighth floor plan – click for larger image
The Carve by A-Lab
Tenth floor plan – click for larger image
The Carve by A-Lab
Twelth floor plan – click for larger image
The Carve by A-Lab
Section – click for larger image