City kills off artist’s ‘House to Die In’

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Norwegian artist Bjarne Melgaard will have to find another place to build his “House to Die In.” Oslo politicians have finally turned down his plans to build his unusual house in the artists’ colony where Edvard Munch once lived and worked, but claim they hope his project can be constructed someplace else.

The latest version of artist Bjarne Melgaard’s “House to Die In,” which was put on display in Oslo last winter, included several modifications meant to appease neighbours. They still didn’t want the project in their neighbourhood. PHOTO: Snøhetta

“Preserving an open, green area (at Ekely) is important for the people living there, and it’s also important to take care of the green lungs we have in the city,” Hanna Marcussen, the city government politician from the Greens Party who’s in charge of urban development in Oslo, told state broadcaster NRK on Monday.

The area was also used by Munch in several of his paintings, with local residents and some Munch fans claiming Melgaard’s house would further damage Munch’s heritage, after the city controversially approved tearing down his house in the 1960s.

The city politicians’ refusal to approve Melgaard’s plans, which had been approved and praised at earlier phases in the rezoning process, marks a major victory for neighbours in the area who had fought the plans for years and did not want either the structure or the tourists it might attract in their area.

Newspaper Aftenposten reported that the Labour, Socialist Left and Green parties ironically supported a proposal put forth by the conservative Progress Party to reject the project called “A House to Die in.” They’re normally at odds with Progress on most issues, but in this case they agreed and formed a majority.

Artist Bjarne Melgaard wasn’t surprised by the city’s rejection of his housing project. PHOTO: newsinenglish.no

The project has been a cooperation between Melgaard, who recently moved back to Oslo from New York, and the internationally acclaimed Oslo architecture firm Snøhetta. Now they need to find another piece of property for it. The three city government parties encouraged Bjarne Melgaard to do so, in a written statement issued Monday afternoon. The matter will be formally handled on Wednesday.

Melgaard, who had made efforts to appease his prospective neighbours, told Aftenposten that he wasn’t surprised by the city government’s decision. “There’s great opposition towards new things in Norway,” he wrote to the newspaper. He didn’t answer whether he’ll be looking for a new site for his house.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund