A soon to be refurbished tower in Norway will stand as the country’s tallest and be the first Norwegian skyscraper to adopt natural ventilation if the project goes ahead.

Designed to be a “sustainable icon” for the city, Urban Mountain aspires to achieve a BREEAM Outstanding certification and adopt Cradle to Cradle (C2C) principles to reduce the building’s carbon footprint.

The project, by Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects, was chosen as the winning concept at the annual Nordic Build Challenge. The firm came up with a concept that would see the Biskop Gunnerus Gate 14, a 50,000 square-metre office building in central Oslo, refurbished and expanded to 79,000 square metres.

The building challenge is an open multidisciplinary design contest focused on the refurbishment of buildings across the Nordic region (Iceland, Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden.)

Nordic Build Challenge

Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects, together with LOOP Architects, COWI Denmark and Norway, Transsolar Energitechnik and Vugge til Vugge Denmark, has won the Nordic Build Challenge in Norway with their innovative scheme, Urban Mountain.

Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects collaborated with LOOP Architects, COWI Denmark and Norway, Transsolar Energietechnik and Vugge til Bugge Denmark on the concept.

“Urban Mountain stands out as a winner for two important reasons,” the jury said. “It consistently scores above the other entries in terms of innovative solutions for sustainability and environmental strategies. And it merges architectural design and environmental strategies in a manner no other entry quite reaches.”

With sustainable architecture at the heart of the project, 90 per cent of the demolished existing materials will be recycled into new and upgraded building materials, while 80 per cent will be directly used in the new refurbished building.

Urban Mountain will also allow room for flexibility, biodiversity and the recycling of water, heat and organic waste so its C2C credentials can be measured.

Indoor Foliage

Indoor Foliage

“An important part of this project is to allow the sustainable measures to be visible to the users and the city, hereby raising awareness of how the building works,” said Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects founding partner John Lassen. “For instance, when you look at the building from the outside the façade is characterized by a series of ‘green lungs.’”

The ‘green lungs’ will contribute to the natural air intake of the building, which will create a cleaner and healthier indoor environment with embedded foliage to purify, humidify and reduce the carbon dioxide concentration of incoming air.

Other sustainable strategies include two solar chimneys that run from the bottom of the building to the top, while the rooftop will feature a greenhouse designed to capture and reuse excess heat from the building and that gained through the solar channels.

Urban Green Mall

Ground Floor: Urban Green Mall

Urban Mountain will also implement an innovative green initiative that will see a room house more than 1,000 cubic metres of ice storage. That ice will be used in an adapted heat pump design to both heat the building when necessary and help cool it in summer.

The ground floor is slated to become an Urban Green Mall with healthy eateries, restaurants and locally-produced products. The space will be designed to encourage public engagement.

The design team behind Urban Mountain will now move on to the next stage of the competition as one of five teams vying for a one million NOK prize.

The other four winners include the Ellebo Garden Room concept, a green estate project in Denmark and Cape Green in Iceland, a green office park and building updates that focus on the differing sustainable challenges of building in a city with dark winters and bright summers.

Cape Green, Iceland

Other Winner: Cape Green, Iceland

Fellow finalist Equilibrium in Finland would see a traditional government office building transformed into an urban hub for the community while Sweden’s Fittja People’s Place was called the most “courageous” concept in the competition, updating The Million Programme Buildings to merge urban living with nature.

Urban Mountain’s competitors all presented sustainable and urban focused projects which reflected an architectural direction toward multi-use spaces and collaborative areas.