Old Oslo airport becomes HFA showcase

Closed in 1998, the control tower is the main remnant of the old Oslo airport and sits in the background of the new urban parkland at Fornebu.
By Andy McElroy

OSLO, 25 September 2013 - An innovative Norwegian development is successfully addressing the most challenging priorities of the Hyogo Framework for Action: reducing underlying factors that drive urban disaster risk.

A mixed development on the site of the former Oslo airport is transforming a polluted post-industrial wasteland into eco-friendly parkland, residences and offices that are flood-resilient.
Landscape architect, Simen Gylseth, said once the Fornebu project is complete it would host 6,000 residents and 20,000 office and light industrial workers in developments arranged around parkland of 200,000 square metres.

In Norway, storm water in urban areas has traditionally been collected and transported in pipe systems adjacent to watercourses yet recent bouts of city flooding, in what is becoming a wetter climate, has revealed the limitations of such systems.

"In Fornebu we are implementing a 'greener' solution. Here the storm water has a recreational and ecological value that is cost-effective and the risk of flood is much lower with the amount of piped run-off reduced by 90 per cent," said Mr. Gylseth.

"We have cleaned polluted grounds and retrieved and reused the asphalt and concrete from the old runways and taxiways. We have a clear intention that all park maintenance will be carried out according to ecological principles. This has all been done to a budget of $20 million."

One of Fornebu's innovations was the establishment of a disaster risk-sensitive environment before any building development commenced. And now that construction is underway, it has to adhere to Norway's strict resilience codes.

Fornebu is acting as a pilot in Norway to see how urban regeneration can occur in a way that is resilient to existing and emerging hazards and does not increase carbon emissions. The development also seeks to meet government urban guidelines for creating environments that are mixed use, denser yet still highly liveable.
The parkland, which acts as the centrepiece of the 3.1-square kilometre development, is shaped like a 'seven-legged spider', with each leg acting as a feeder for water drainage to the park's central area.

The control tower is the main remnant of the old Oslo airport, which closed in 1998. Fornebu is bordered by Oslo fjord on three sides. Before the airport's expansion in the late 1940s the area was, according to Mr Gylseth, "a beautiful and well-kept cultural landscape".

"Then, a richly varied natural setting was eradicated; hillocks were blasted away, hollows were evened, bays and inlets filled, the shoreline altered. There were only small remnants of this original landscape left as fragments at the perimeter of the old airport," Mr Gylseth said.

Fornebu is under the jurisdiction of Baerum municipality, which adjoins the city of Oslo. The Norwegian capital this week became the 1,504th member of the Making Cities Resilient campaign, which was launched in May 2010 by the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) to address issues of local governance and urban risk.

The field visit to Fornebu was part of the 4th European Forum for Disaster Risk Reduction in Oslo, hosted by the Norwegian Directorate for Civil Protection and Emergency Planning and organised in collaboration with the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) and the Council of Europe.

The Forum advocates for strong implementation of the Hyogo Framework for Action on disaster risk reduction and acts as a knowledge sharing platform for various European partners involved in this area.
The Third World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction took place in 2015 The Third World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction took place in 2015.
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