Art, architecture and buildings in the Government Building Complex

Regjeringskvartalet, the government building complex, is located in central Oslo and has been owned by the government for more than 200 years.

Regjeringskvartalet, the government building complex, is located in central Oslo and has been owned by the government for more than 200 years. Strictly speaking, the government building complex is not a single entity, but stretches over several streets and buildings and has ten different addresses. Block G, which now houses the Ministry of Finance, was built in 1906. The high-rise block (H Block) was completed in 1958.

Building development has continued until 2012, when the latest government building, R6, was occupied.

Both the H Block, which was completed in 1958, and the Y Block, completed in 1969, were designed by the architect Erling Viksjø. The decoration, carried out in the new material “naturbetong” (a type of concrete), was a radical new departure – the architecture and the art are so closely merged that they are inseparable.
 

The art in the H-Block and the Y-Block

The best known artist to decorate the building was Pablo Picasso, who was invited to contribute by Viksjø and the Norwegian artist Carl Nesjar. Picasso created three original motifs: The Beach, The Seagull and The Fishermen (in two different versions). A fourth motif, Satyr and Faun, was based on a previous work. The original of the latter can be found at the Picasso Museum in Antibes. Picasso’s sketches for the Government building building complex were transferred to concrete by Nesjar.

Beside Picasso, four young artist were invited to decorate the H Block: Tore Haaland (1918-2006), Carl Nesjar (b. 1920), Inger Sitter (b. 1929) og Odd Tandberg (b. 1924). Carl Nesjar etched sketches by the artist Kai Fjell on the concrete as well as Picasso’s drawings. Erling Viksjø, the architect, was fond of art and often cooperated with artists. Viksjø himself was also responsible for the pictograms on the facades, the decoration of the pillars and smaller interior wall surfaces.

The art in the H-Block

The artworks are to be found in the reception area, on the walls of the stairwell and on the facades facing north and south.

Pablo Picasso (1881–1973)
8th floor, south wall The Beach
8th floor, north wall The Fishermen
11th floor, south wall Satyr and Faun

Kai Fjell (1907–1989)
Reception area

Tore Haaland (1918–2006)
12th floor, north and south walls
14th floor, north wall

Carl Nesjar (b.1920)
Reception area, together with Inger Sitter. Now hidden by building alterations
2nd floor, north wall (with Inger Sitter)
4th floor, north and south walls
10th floor, north and south walls
13th floor, north and south walls

Inger Sitter (b. 1929)
Reception area, together with Carl Nesjar. Now hidden by building alterations
2nd floor, north wall (with Carl Nesjar)
3rd floor, north and south walls
6th floor, north and south walls
7th floor, north and south walls

Odd Tandberg (b.1924)
5th floor, north and south walls
9th floor, north and south walls

Erling Viksjø (1910–1971)
14th floor, south wall
All decoration on the pillars and smaller wall areas
Pictograms on the facades
 

Art in the Y-Block 

Pablo Picasso
Exterior wall, 8.2 x 13 m The Fishermen
Reception area, 3 x 3 m. The Seagull

Source: The National Museum and The Directorate for Cultural Heritage 2013
 

Buildings in the Government Building Complex

These are the buildings in the Government building complex, year of construction, adress and architect. Where possible, click for further information:

  • The G-Block – 1906. Akersgata 40. Architect Henrik Bull.
  • The H Block – 1958. Akersgata 42. Architect Erling Viksjø.
  • The Y-Block – 1969. Akersgata 44. Architect Erling Viksjø.
  • The S Block – 1978. Einar Gerhardsens plass 3. Viksjø arkitektkontor.
  • Møllergata 17 – 1988. Einar Gerhardsens plass 1. Viksjø arkitektkontor.
  • Møllergata 19 – 1866. Became part of the Government complex in 1981.
  • Grubbegata 1 – 1939. Became part of the Government complex in 1999.
  • R4 – 1988. Einar Gerhardsens plass 1. Viksjø arkitektkontor.
  • R5 – 1996. Akersgata 57-63, Teatergata 2-4. Architect Torstein Ramberg AS.  
  • R6 – 2012. Teatergata 9, Keysersgate 6-8. BA Arkitekter AS.

Statsbygg, the Directorate for Public Construction and Property Management, owns and manages the buildings in the Government building complex.

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