The City of Oslo has paid NOK 338.2 million (USD 40 million) for two square blocks of historic barracks located adjacent to the historic Akershus Fortress and Castle. The plan is to both preserve and use them, by turning the brick structures into what’s likely to be a new high school.
“We think the property is well-suited for a new school,” Harald Øvland, a director in the city’s Department of Education, told newspaper Dagsavisen. He said his department has worked closely with its real estate division and evaluated the property, which was put up for sale by the state’s Defense Ministry since it was no longer needed for defense purposes tied to the fortress.
The property consists of nearly 13,000 square meters in the heart of Oslo containing five buildings situated around an open courtyard. The brick buildings were originally erected in the latter half of the 1800s as stalls for horses used in the transport of defense materials and as barracks for troops stations at the fortress.
The entire area is under historic preservation orders but faced sitting empty in an area where city officials want to make more lively. The neighbourhood behind the fortress, known as Kvadraturen because of its grid system of streets designed hundreds of years ago when Norway was under Danish rule, has undergone redevelopment in recent years and now features restaurants, museums, galleries and even new residences.
The city ended up as the only bidder for the property and could purchase it at assessed value. It will now play a key role in the city’s ongoing efforts to further redevelop the area by transforming the property into a high school: “We will gladly note that modern high schools no longer close at 4pm,” Øvland said, “and we will cooperate closely with local businesses, voluntary organizations and other interested parties, so that the buildings can be used for other community and cultural purposes” in the evenings and an weekends.
The city is due to formally take over the property in August.