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April 1-3 | 2020

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  /  Built Environment & Architecture   /  FutureBuilt & the power of good examples

FutureBuilt & the power of good examples

Birgit Rusten & Stein Stoknes are driving the change towards zero carbon architecture in Oslo.

If you are walking through the streets of Oslo, you do not only realise how liveable this city of about 600.000 residents is, but also that it has been undergoing a strong process of change within the last decades. From a mainly industrial city, with the highway ending right at the harbour, it has become a lively, open city with lots of interesting sustainable and innovative buildings and a city centre that is going to be carfree in 2019.

There is a team of outstanding people that have played – and still play – an important role in this transformation. Starting off as a project for the European capital of culture – Stavanger 2008, they redeveloped the “Norwegian wooden city” by introducing pilots of urban, industrialized, environmental friendly wooden architecture. Birgit and Stein – the heads and hearts behind Future Built – developed the organisation further and rapidly it became an independent program with a broad range of partners. Their goals and their vision are ambitious:

“We believe in the power of good examples. Our vision is to show, that it is possible to develop zero carbon architecture and urban areas. Our aim is, to realize at least 50 pilot projects with minimum 50 percent reduced carbon footprint.”

You are wondering how they are actually doing this? Well, they help developers to set ambitious targets for climate and architecture, they arrange architectural competitions, they support the projects with expertise and communicate the projects and their results. The projects include urban areas, schools, kindergartens, office buildings, cultural centres, housing projectsIce, skating rink and cycling projects.

And their results are even exceeding the ambitious goals they set!

“About 40 pilot projects in the region do have a significant influence on the market. An example is Oslo’s ambition of building purely plus-energy houses from now on, based partly on the experiences with FutureBuilt.”

This development was also accompanied by significant changes within the industry. “There has been a “revolution” in the building industry within the last 10 years. What was ambitious ten years ago is now part of building regulations
. There is an increasing interest in becoming a frontrunner, driving the market, contributing to innovation and building a higher standard than required.  The municipalities have an increased understanding of the necessity of climate friendly architecture and urban development. “

But it is not always as easy as it may sound. The toughest part was to get the most important developers to join. Birgit and Stein worked systematically over several years towards the biggest developers, to get to know them better, to build up trust towards FutureBuilt as an organization and get them committed to the fact that high environmental ambitions are necessary, reachable and good for the economy in the long run.

Furthermore, developers have good reasons to join FutureBuilt: the competitive advantage to be an environmental leading company, the visibility as ambitious and climate friendly developer, the support from experts, as well as fast track and reduced fee for their building applications.

Once they got the developers on board, they do focus on realizing and showcasing best practise examples as a mean of making change happen. “The particular project is the core of FutureBuilt. It is all about inspiration, innovation and generating knowledge.”

Birgit and Stein are sharing office and desk for around ten years now and they are leading the program together as a perfect team. Their recipe for success is “having a strong vision and a strong will combined with broad competences and a good ability to communicate with a wide range of people and stakeholders.”


This is very important for us to highlight… We are both strong believers in the importance of designing cities on the premises of pedestrians and bicycles.

Future cities shall be… democratic and liveable, accessible for everybody



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