Heritage Alert: Y-Block Government Buildings, Oslo, Norway
Update: 26 October 2016
28 September 2016
The International Scientific Committee on Twentieth Century Heritage (ISC20C) of the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) has released an International Heritage Alert regarding the threatened demolition of the Y-block of the Government Quarter in Oslo, Norway.
This action supports the conservation initiatives of ICOMOS Norway and confirms international concern about threats to the heritage sigificance of this important modern heritage complex in the center of Oslo.
ICOMOS Norway has undertaken extensive research into this case, and confirms that the architectural and artistic merit of the Y-block, as well as its historical significance, is uncontested. Architect Erling Viksjø conceived the high-rise H-block and the lower Y-block as whole, clearly connected to similar contemporary headquarters for democratic purposes (e.g. United Nations, New York and UNESCO, Paris). The high-rise H-block was erected in 1958 with pioneering treatment of the sandblasted natural concrete and integrated wors by merited modernist artists, including contributions by Pablo Picasso. In 1969, the building complex was completed by the addition of the sculptural Y-block. Its three curved wings define three urban spaces of individual character. Picasso's "Fishermen" in one of the facades is an epitome of public art integrated within this extraordinary complex.
Update: 26 October 2016
On Wednesday 26 October 2016 a manifestation/demonstration was organized in front of the Y-block. It was well attended, and well-known musicians sang special songs before people joined hands and surrounded the building. It was well covered on national radio news, and also on TV. All architects, heritage expertise, cultural expertise are against this demolition. Later that evening, secretary Paul Chaffey pronounced that the decision of demolishing stands, whatever. Today on the news was that the Directorate for Cultural Heritage suggested as an ultimate solution, that the North wing be demolished, leaving the curve around the H-block intact. Unfortunately, the local politicians in Oslo make a weak stand on the subject, following their national leaders. Below is a link to our main national newspaper’s coverage today on the issue.
Photo: Lars Lillo-Stenberg served musical contributions to support action outside the Y-block on October 26th, 2016. PHOTO: ARVE HENRIKSEN