PURE, THE BIG INTERVIEW: Social dine arena Vulkan



Isak Oksvold: “Nobody believed that we could succeed this”


Sometimes there are people and companies who really follow their dreams, even though everybody tell them not to invest or to develop. For the Norwegian Isak Oksvold of Aspelin Ramm, this was the case: he and his real estate company created Mathallen in Vulkan, now one of hottest places in Oslo by locals and food lovers.


It is Saturday morning. There are just a few people wandering around the fancy food bars who just opened. Mathallen market is awakening. The smell of fresh coffee, sandwiches, roasted beef and crispy pies are very tempting. Isak Oksvold orders a coffee and some breakfast. He lives in the neighbourhood, and comes around very often. “It will be crowded within a few hours, just wait and see”, he says smiling. He is more than a local food lover; he is the director of Environment and Social responsibility of the Norwegian real estate company, Aspelin Ramm. Just a few years ago Vulkan was nothing more then old and neglected storage and warehouses, a pretty run down area without anything happening. But Oksvold and his company believed they could change it into a vibrant and sparkling place, in a sustainable and green environment. And they were right, because the Vulkan urban development project, defined by its innovative, environment-friendly architecture, has won several Awards and is embraced by the local community. There are two hotels, cafes, apartments, schools, office spaces, the House of Dance, a Concert Hall and the highlight is Mathallen, an upbeat food market in a converted factory building. Why was Oksvold so sure about this? He takes a bite and says: “ This is a central area, near the popular district of Grünerløkka, where a lot of locals and young people go out. It is a very social place. I think one of the best areas in Oslo. Not many tourists visit this part of town; this is the escape route from the city centre. Here you can taste the authentic city life of Oslo.”


Food orient

In 2009 Aspelin Ramm started with the construction of the House of Dance, which is orientated on art. The idea of a Food orient is new in Norway; this is the first food hall in the country. Oksvold explains: “All the small Boucher’s, bakery’s and other food boutiques were taken over by big supermarket chains. A lot of knowledge of preparation, quality and competence of food has been lost. We wanted to bring this back in to the local community. But it needs to be accessible for average people living in the area. This part of Oslo has the lowest incomes. Nobody believed that we could succeed this.”


So how did they succeed? You can have a good concept, but you must make it happen. Oksvold says that although people don’t have a lot of income, they enjoy spending money on other things. For instance most of them don’t own a car, they save a lot of money with that and spend it on going out, drinking and food. “It is an urban population here around Vulkan, without having a summerhouse, which also cost a lot of money. People live differently than other parts of the city; they can afford to have a good time. That’s why we believed in it. But at first it was a struggle to develop the content of the food market and it was an abandoned location. The House of Dance was the starting point, with its bar and restaurant it got a lot of attention. People saw what could happen with a place like this, so slightly we started with the construction of the Mathallen.”


Green showroom

Still, it took the entrepreneur and his company about ten years to develop the food court and sparkling area of Vulkan. Together with the support of the Bellona Foundation the old factory was revived. And important, it turned into a ‘green’ environment, with a local energy center with 300-meter deep geothermal wells, and an office building with an exterior that is visually defined by its extensive solar water heating system. The Bellona Foundation is an independent non-profit organization that aims to meet and fight climate challenges, through identifying and implementing sustainable environmental solutions. Oksvold: “We built up an energy supply production based on runnable sources, like geo-thermal energy, solar energy and based on recycled heat from all the cooling that is needed for the food court. We also have beehives on the roof. Bees in the cities are dying; we need bees for flowering plants. We released a carpool with electric cars. This is a showroom for sustainable urban development.” 


Industrial mix

Projects like this are only possible thinking on the long terms. Maybe a bit similar are the Doklands in London or Neueheimat in Berlin. The urban population of Grünerløkka content actors, artists, bloggers, writers and other creative people. To introduce it and make the area alive, several events are organised, such as a farmers markets, pop-up food courts and music festivals, brining people together. And important, old elements are mixed with new. For instance taking care of old facades and bricks, and be able to transform it into something that can function in modern society. Oksvold:“We used old building techniques, which is expensive, but important to keep authentic handicrafts alive. And the results are beautiful. The old industrial places, also like Kreuzberg and Brooklyn, they have a special ambience that attracts communities. People are hungry for this kind of dining and drinking. It is a social arena. Everything happens here and is combined, day and night. That was also the idea when we developed this, it is a little city within a city.”


Recommendations by Isak Oksvold:

- Mathallen: Asian Tapas, great spicy oriental food

- PS. Hotel: this is a different hotel experience; a rehabilitation hotel, which gives people a second change to get back into working society.

Check out for more info >> vulkanoslo.no |  visitnorway.com  | See also my vlogs about Vulkan, like this one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9bXs0-_KlTY&feature=youtu.be

Thanks to: Isak Oksvold, Innovation Norway, Mette Mo and Susanne Engelen, Cherry Picker.


Angelique van Os


#Vulkan #Mathallen #Food #Oslo #urban #sustainable #authentic #Aspelin Ramm














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