In this latest edition of Urbanist Abroad, we cut straight to contributor James Bligh’s editorial coverage from Oslo — it’s topical, it’s timely and, unlike most Instagram diaries, it’s got data. Enjoy….

Oslo is going through an affordability crisis, so much so that their National Museum of Architecture is running an exhibit on the subject. Within the museum I felt like I was reliving my visit of last year’s “The Vienna Model” exhibit at the Museum of Vancouver, which decried the same subject at home.

Unlike Vancouver’s version of the exhibit, Oslo’s included what the curators considered bad examples of recent housing projects constructed within their own city, inclusive of the name of the responsible developer and the architect! What follows is a transcript taken from the exhibit’s opening panel. Does this sound familiar?

“The exhibition also looks alternative projects and models for residential developments in other cities, including Vienna and Copenhagen. Like Oslo, both Vienna and Copenhagen have experienced rapid growth in recent years. Vienna has retained the social housing profile it developed during the “Rotes Vienna” period (1918-34), when 65,000 municipal residential units were built to overcome the housing shortage after World War I. Most of those apartments were in large, imposing estates that included a range of communal facilities, such as the Karl Marx-Hof (1927-30). Even today, around 60% of Vienna’s residents live in subsidized or municipal housing.”

“In Copenhagen, the housing market is dominated by the owner-occupier model, with many new homes being added in the city’s most expensive areas. The result is rising prices, densification and a steady increase in building height. Many ordinary people cannot afford to live in these upmarket areas. Copenhagen is now therefore requiring that 25% of the space devoted to new housing is developed as ‘communal housing’, i.e. rental accommodation through housing cooperatives.”

I can’t help myself but start with more images from the exhibit, which is titled “House Viewing” – presumably in reference to the museum’s seemingly desperate search for an affordable model of housing to replicate…

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