Hortus Conclusus

Ås is a municipality part of the Oslo region whose population will double in the next 25 years. An important reason for this development is the expected growth in the Oslo region. Moreover, the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (UMB), the university located in Ås, expects a strong growth the next coming years. The area surrounding the train station of Ås will play an important role in those future developments. The proposed urban strategy is to clarify the borders between rural and urban in order to strengthen the qualities of both the countryside and the city. To create this border, a green cultural corridor is introduced that makes a connection between the centre of Ås and the UMB. This corridor is car free and will guarantee a safe and fast connection for pedestrians and cyclists. The corridor will also house a public program, anticipating the expansion of the city. Perpendicular to this corridor, a high-density housing strip is proposed that will accommodate the high demand for housing in the near future.


The site that will start this new development is located directly next to the station on the intersection of the green corridor and the urban strip. On this site, program of both UMB and the city will be brought together within a walled garden, a ‘hortus conclusus’. This high-density cluster of varied functions will act as a catalyst for the future development of the city of Ås. Several buildings form, according to the jury of the competition, ‘a jewel box of urbanity’. The composition of the urban ensemble makes subtle reference to the modern aesthetics of the Odd Tandbergs paintings, to whom a museum on the site is dedicated.

Location: Ås, Norway

Client: Municipality of Ås (NO), Norwegian University of Life Sciences (UMB)

Program: Cultural, housing and leisure

Area: 11.000 m2

Status: International competition Europan 2012, second prize

Project Team: laura alvarez architecture, Jarrik Ouburg