Ulven Terrasse condo in Oslo used copper to strengthen its identity

Ulven Terrasse condominium is in the Ulven district of Oslo some 3 kilometers to the northeast of the city center. Completed in the early 1980s, the condo consists of five buildings comprising 215 apartments.

Stricter energy performance requirements resulted in a building modernization project, which included thicker insulation, replacement of the façade cladding and windows, and renovation of the balconies. Once the yard areas were completed in late 2019, the almost 2-year long project came to an end.

Identity in harmony with the surroundings

Pale steel sheets, yellow and red wood surfaces and concrete had been used in the old façades of the condominium. The façades looked long and were considered banal and jumbled.

“Initially we considered washing and painting the original wooden cladding, but this would have made it difficult to increase the insulation,” says Ulf Christensen, who is project development manager in Selvaag Prosjekt, the company carrying out the project.

Design was based on creating a strong identity for the condominium based on the history and the surroundings of the area and its future development. Architects office LÉVA Urban Design was responsible for the design in collaboration with the contractor and residents.

Copper, brick and wood were used in the renovated façade and now the buildings form a harmonious entity with the natural surroundings and other brick-clad buildings in the district.

Ruukki delivered the special copper lamellas as well as detailed design and installation in cooperation with the architect and company carrying out the project.

Living surface

The renovated façades accentuate the entrances, less material was used than before and the vertical grouping was broken up. The five different buildings took on a more tranquil look and they became an integrated whole, which was the objective.

Cladding options included color-coated steel, zinc and copper. Architect Cecilie Austerå says that the copper façade was not initially a strong contender, but after a few rounds of planning it become clear that copper best met the criteria for the façades.

“The most important thing was to see the area as a whole and not as individual buildings. The result was that we created an integral outcome, where the façade surfaces are serene and the materials both vibrant and natural.”

Copper comes to life when the light reflects on its surface in different ways at different times of the day – also the different color nuances live as the years pass.

“The three sizes of lamella used in the walls also add vitality and individuality. The plan was to create a façade with vertical expression that viewers could experience. Now sunlight or snow on the surface plays on the façade,” describes Cecilie Austerå.

Strong concept to the finish line

The Ulven Terrasse project taught Cecilie Austerå how the design and construction process progresses. It’s particularly taught how to make things happen in the right order so that the job doesn’t get out of hand.

“As far as the outcome is concerned, it was vital for us to have a strong concept and vision from the very start. It guided our choices and the changes made during the project.”

Today, Ulven Terrasse gleams whether it’s cloudy or sunny. Even though a copper façade is not the cheapest on the market, the choice was seen from a longer horizon.

“We created a long-lasting façades, which will certainly be functioning a hundred years from now. Not only that, a copper façade is inexpensive to maintain,” notes Ulf Christensen at Selvaag Prosjekt, the company responsible for construction.

Inger Sandset, who chairs the condominium’s board of directors, says that the condominium has considered the renovation to be a positive matter and has even increased interaction between the residents.

“Residents are really pleased. Likewise ordinary people and professionals who come here are impressed by what they see. For many, this is an experience and I think it turned out even better than I imagined,” Inger Sandset says.

Architect Cecilie Austerå is pleased with the outcome since LÉVA Urban Design managed to give Ulven Terrasse a new look and identity.

“Overall, this project was a positive experience, also because it was different. We have received positive feedback from the client, too. The best reward in this work is satisfied clients,” says architect Cecilie Austerå.