With a community and business mindset that matches Oslo, Norway’s initiative to make the city carbon-neutral, the Akersbakken Housing Association set out to provide a very basic resource, bicycle parking, in an environmentally friendly and visually appealing way.
To help on the project, the association contacted Don Lawrence Architects with a request to design what is now referred to as the Akersbakken Bicycle Hotel. At its core, it’s nothing more than a space to park bikes, yet the finished design provides an inviting, safe, accessible space that offers more than function.
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Although it’s not underground, the Akersbakken Bicycle Hotel appears to be from inside, with surrounding concrete walls that feel a bit like an underground parking garage. In reality, the structure is built into the hillside for minimal site impact and the benefit of using the existing landscape as support.
Twenty wood beams uphold the structure, which features a roof that allows in natural light while sheltering the neighborhood from light pollution that would otherwise seep out of the parking area at night.
From the outside, the Akersbakken Bicycle Hotel looks like an extension of the surrounding vegetation, with local grasses, shrubs and wildflowers growing directly on the roof of the bike parking area.
The project is an indirect result of the City of Oslo’s commitment to making the city center a car-free zone. In working towards this goal, the city has removed more than 700 parking spots and increased bike lanes in their place. With this encouragement, residents are riding more, but bike parking at the city’s apartments requires hauling bikes up and down staircases to individual storage units, which is a deterrent. Hence, the goal to create accessible central parking.
The investment in creating a more bike and pedestrian-friendly city center also brought a focus to creating a tranquil landscape for residents and visitors to enjoy, so the bike hotel needed to be attractive and blend into the landscape.
Images via Carlos Martinez Bayona