Update on government buildings

White paper released on plans for new government complex

government building complex

Photo: Helge Høifødt / Wikimedia Commons
“The Fishermen,” art by Carl Nesjar based on sketches by Pablo Picasso, will be preserved in the new government building complex that will replace structures damaged in the July 22 terror attacks.

Ministry of Local Government & Modernization

Almost eight years after the terrorist attacks on the government building complex in Oslo and the island of Utøya, a white paper describes the planning phases to date of the work on the new government building complex. The report provides an account of the assessments and decisions related to functionalities and workplace design, safety and security, urban environment, and the environment.

“Opinions are divided on the new government building complex,” said Minister of Local Government and Modernization Monica Mæland. “There are feelings and views related to the physical reminders of the terrorist attack on July 22, 2011, the history of the area, and how the new government building complex will work in the city. We have therefore chosen to present an update on the work so far. Now the Storting will have the opportunity to voice its opinion on the project.”

The government building complex is a major construction project. It concerns buildings with important symbolic value that will last for generations to come.

“The government has previously decided to reduce the total floor area, and it has been decided that the construction work should take place in phases. The project is currently in the feasibility study phase,” said Mæland.

A major source of controversy has been in the handling of artwork from the existing buildings, leading some to argue for repairing rather than replacing the complex.

“We are pleased that we have come up with a good solution for the placement of the murals ‘The Seagull’ and ‘The Fishermen,’” said Mæland. “Priority has been given to making these works of art accessible to everyone who visits the new government building complex. Both works of art will be placed inside the new Building A, with ‘The Fishermen’ facing out toward Einar Gerhardsens plass and ‘The Seagull’ inside the public reception. ‘The Seagull’ will be visible from outside.”

The new building will facilitate collaboration between the ministries in that all of them, except the Ministry of Defense, will be located there. “The goal is to create good workplaces and a good framework for a flexible working environment for the government,” said Mæland.

“However, we also need to keep the costs of the reconstruction down. Average floor area per employee must therefore be modest,” said Mæland.

The government will return to proposals regarding budget and startup allocation once the feasibility study and quality assurance processes have been completed, while planning the budget for 2021 at the earliest.

Read the white paper at www.regjeringen.no/no/dokumenter/meld.-st.-21-20182019/id2641647/sec1 (Norwegian only).

This article originally appeared in the September 6, 2019, issue of The Norwegian American.

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