Oslo City Hall

Oslo City Hall (Oslo rådhus) is a municipal building in Oslo, the capital of Norway. It houses the city council, the city’s administration and various other municipal organisations. The building as it stands today was constructed between 1931 and 1950, with an interruption during the second world war. It was designed by architects Arnstein Arneberg and Magnus Poulsson. The building is located in the city center, in the northern part of the Pipervika neighbourhood, and it faces Oslofjord.

Oslo City Hall is built of red brick and has two towers, one 63 meters tall and other 66 meters tall. The bricks used are larger than what was typical at the time of construction, but are roughly the same size as bricks used in the middle ages. The bricks were produced by Hovin Teglverk in Oslo. The eastern tower has a set of 49 bells. Various events and ceremonies take place in the building, including the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony which takes place every December.

Decoration

Various contests were held to decide who would decorate City Hall in January 1937. In all, eight painters and 17 sculptors were hired. Most of the work was completed by the opening of the hall in 1950, though the sculpture park was not completed until the 1960s.

Exterior

The western wall of the building is dominated by Anne Grimdalen’s sculpture of Harald Hardråde on horseback. Nic Schiøll’s sculpture of St. Hallvard is at the front of the building, facing Oslofjord. Reliefs by Dagfin Werenskiold face the square and are multicoloured depictions of motifs from the Poetic Edda. Joseph Grimeland designed the bronze relief over the entrance and also the Oslopike (“Oslo girl”) high up on the wall. Six free-standing sculptures by Per Palle Storm in front of the building depict the craftsmen who built the building.

Main Hall

The building’s main hall was decorated by Henrik Sørensen and Alf Rolfsen. The Hall is 31 metres wide, 39 metres long and around 21 metres high. The floor and parts of the walls are clad in marble. The room has a series of wall paintings depicting Norway and Oslo between the wars and also during occupation. They also depict the growth of commercial activity in the city, including the rise of the labour movement. Various monarchs and the city’s patron saint, St. Hallvard are also depicited.

City Council Hall

The room in which the City Council meets (Bystyresalen) is semi-circular. It is clad in oak and tapestries, the most noticeable of which was designed by Else Poulsson, the niece of the architect. Woven by Else Halling, it depicts St. Hallvard and the seven virtues. The artist hoped the design would remind the city’s politicians of ethics and good decisionmaking.

Nobel Peace Prize ceremony

On December 10 (anniversary of Alfred Nobel’s death) each year, Oslo City Hall hosts the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in which the annual laureate gives his or her lecture and is awarded the medal and diploma. A podium for the laureate and the Nobel Committee is erected in the far end of the hall for each ceremony. The Norwegian Royal Family and Prime Minister are attendants.