Barcode – the new skyline of Oslo

Barcode means just that - a barcode. And it is the slim lines of it that has been the inspiration for the Barcode concept.

The feeling of a functioning and good city environment requires a lot of work. City planning is considered as complex, longterm projects, but it is also about the details. In 2000 the municipality of Oslo passed the Fjord City-vision, that the Oslo fjord should be open to the people of the city by moving the harbor operations that used to occupy the areas by the shore line. The regulation plan for Bjørvika was passed by the city council in 2003, and construction commenced. The first building in the Barcode line completed construction in 2007. 

The charachteristic architecture of the twelve buildings that make up Barcode quickly placed Oslo on the map of visionary cities. The concept won several international awards, and Oslo's new skyline became world known. Since then, Barcode has evolved from striking architecture to also becoming a vibrant area with an attractive set of offers and experiences for the people of the city. Restaurants, stores, cultural institutions, housing and places of work form an intriguing neigborhood. An area to explore. 

The initial thought behind the Barcode concept is to build tall and narrow, while maintaining the views from the city to the fjord. The line of high-rise buildings has gone from being controversial to a symbol of Oslo. Also internationally the high-rise buildings gain attention. The full Barcode line and five of the buildings were chosen for the Venice biennale in 2016, the world's most important arena for contemporary achitecture.


For contractor Oslo S Utvikling (OSU) the goal is that the architecture contributes to an attractive city environment. The buildings in their independent form, height and character represent openness, technology and innovation. The buildings are developed and adapted with consideration of different users and needs.

The architects of Barcode

The Barcode concept that won the international architect competition arranged by OSU in 2003, is developed by the dutch architect firm MVRDV in collaboration with norwegian A-lab and DARK architects. The concept was a set of rules, and not completed drawings of the different constructions. The rules involved differences in height and size variations between the buildings, in a color palette of every other building in either dark or light tones, and finishing off the line with surprise in red bricks, that break from the rest of the line. 

Facts about Barcode

• 200 000 square meters above ground
• 80 000 square meters under ground
• 12 000 square meters of retail area (1.floor)
• 397 apartments
• 1 kindergarden - Strekkoden Barnehage
• 10 000 jobs
• Construction started in 2005
• The last building was completed in 2016

Maiken Frisch