Whether you love quirky modern architecture or not, a place not to be missed when visiting Norway’s capital Oslo is the city’s newest neighbourhood Tjuvholmen – also known as Thief Islet.
In the past, this was an area where thieves were executed (hence the name) and later on it was transformed into an industrial shipping compound.
Thanks to a wider and rather extensive waterfront revitalisation programme, development on the little island started back in 2005 and the area today spots a sleek, top-end architecture with glossy office and residential buildings linked by wide, clean walkways.
The area – which spreads over two different islands (Skjaeret and Homen) and a small peninsular (Odden) – is almost completely surrounded by the Oslo Fjord and only connected by bridge to Aker Brygge on the mainland.
There is much more to explore here than just looking at modern buildings though. Whilst the area itself is fairly contained (you can walk from one end to the other in just a few minutes), there is a large number of restaurants and cafés (many with outside seating), shops, art galleries and off course the area’s main attraction which can keep you occupied for quite a while, the Astrup Fearnley Museum.
Astrup Fearnley Museum
An exciting modern building by star-architect Renzo Piano that yields to its maritime, harbour-side location. The glass roof spanning three individual pavilions is absolutely spectacular, shaped like a giant sail.
Inside, you will find a superb collection of modern and contemporary art with permanent and visiting exhibitions including works by Damien Hirst and Jeff Koons.
The museum is privately owned and if you want to visit, make sure to check opening times which on weekdays usually start from noon to 5 pm (7 pm on Thursdays) and on weekends from 11 am to 5 pm whilst the museum is closed on Monday. At the time of writing, there was an admission fee of NOC 130 but entrance is free with the Oslo pass and in case you are a guest of the nearby The Thief Hotel.
The Sneak Peak
Get your bearings of the area – including parts of the city, the bay and surrounding hills – by taking this spectacular glass elevator that will lift you up to 54 metres above ground. It is located right next to the Astrup Fearnley Museum at Albert Nordengens plass.
Tjuvholmen Sculpture Park
Don’t expect a huge number of sculptures or an extensive park to wander – if that’s what you looking for head over to Vigeland Park, Oslo’s renown sculpture park created by a single artist Gustav Vigeland.
The number of sculptures in Tjuvholmen is more limited but still they create a nice touch and support the areas connection with art. Also, don’t expect a dedicated area to find the sculptures; rather the whole island features as sculpture park with several pieces strewn across Tjuvholmen.
Exposed works origin from a number of international contemporary artists including Louise Bourgeois, Antony Gormley, Anish Kapoor, Ellsworth Kelly, Ugo Rondinone, Franz West and the duo Peter Fischli and David Weiss.
In case you wonder, these are supposed to by eyes …
Tjuvholmen outdoor pool
Located just behind the Astrup Fearnley Museum is a little outdoor bathing area. Though it does not look very inviting with the weather already turned decidedly autumnal (with quite a bit of wind and also occasionally some rain), I was told the area is drawing in large numbers of people sunbathing and swimming in the little outlet of the Oslo Fjord on warmer summer days.
The Thief Hotel
The little islet is also home to the quirky The Thief Hotel, dubbed to be Norway’s most luxurious hotel. Owned by Norwegian billionaire Petter Stordalen, a lover of contemporary art, the hotel spots a huge number of exquisite pieces of art including works from Andy Warhol, Fiona Banner and Richard Prince as well as giving space to emerging contemporary artists in form of changing exhibitions.
Make sure to drop into the gorgeous Thief bar or – during the summer months – the rooftop bar offering spectacular views over the Oslo Fjord and nearby buildings.
Though Tjuvholmen is a small area, I really enjoyed walking around here, admiring its modern architecture and marvelling at many beautiful pieces of art.
Have you been to Oslo yet? Did you visit Tjuvholmen? Let me know about your experience.