At Bjørvika, it evinces income inequality

New school in Oslo to bring together some of the city’s richest and poorest children

Bjørvika school model

Photo courtesy of L2 Arkitekter
The plans for the Bjørvika school include open air green spaces and generous windows. The school is currently under construction with plans to open in 2025.

M. MICHAEL BRADY
Asker, Norway

In the 11th century, Oslo was established at the northern tip of the Oslo Fjord, in the area around Bjørvika, an inlet where the Alna River flows into the fjord, a strategic location with respect to trade, transport, and defense. In the centuries thereafter, Bjørvika became an industrial center with Norway’s largest container terminal. 

Developments of the 20th century changed that picture. Today, Bjørvika’s industries have relocated elsewhere, and Norway’s largest container terminal is on Sjursøya, a peninsula on the east bank of the Oslo Fjord south of the city. In this century, Bjørvika is undergoing urban redevelopment. Today, Bjørvika truly matches the meaning of its name, from the Old Norse term Bjæravik (literally “City inlet”), as it has an urban culture, including the new Opera House (opened in 2008), the Deichman main Oslo library (opened in 2020), and now the Munch Museum, with its official opening this fall.

A new school is now being built at Bjørvika, which is in the Gamle Oslo district of the city. It is scheduled for opening in 2025 and is designed to suit the needs of primary- and middle-school pupils, with a multipurpose hall and a ballroom in addition to classrooms.

When the school is finished, its pupils are expected to come from established homes in the surrounding Gamle Oslo district, a third of them from homes with chronic low income. In contrast, many of the school’s pupils are expected to be from the homes of wealthier families that have more recently moved to Bjørvika to enjoy its urban culture.

The class differences at Bjørvika have intrigued researcher Jørn Ljunggren of the Department of Sociology and Human Geography at the University of Oslo. He has observed that “If nothing else, at least a mixed mass of pupils leads to people from different backgrounds actually meeting. It is a prerequisite for understanding and learning from each other.”

Further reading:

Når denne skolen åpner, vil noen av Oslos rikeste og fattigste barn gå sammen (When this school opens, it will bring together some of Oslo’s richest and poorest children), by Adriane Lilleskare Lunde, Aftenposten, June 28, 2021 (www.aftenposten.no/oslo/i/nA82Qo/naar-denne-skolen-aapner-vil-noen-av-oslos-rikeste-og-fattigste-barn-gaa).

This article originally appeared in the Sept. 3, 2021, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

M. Michael Brady

M. Michael Brady was born, raised, and educated as a scientist in the United States. After relocating to the Oslo area, he turned to writing and translating. In Norway, he is now classified as a bilingual dual national.

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