Exploring Oslo’s Summer School

In September, Natural State had the pleasure to hold Oslo Summer School at their office in the vibrant setting of Gamle Byen (Old City). Noteworthy to mention that Natural State is a new partner taking over this project from the previous partner Nabolagshager. Due to this overlap of partners, this summer school was organized primarily with the intention to foster exchange and cross-learning between the consortium partners. It aimed to deepen our understanding of and involvement in local Oslo projects, offering inspiration for future Urban Living Labs activities. To get more insight about our main goals of the “Winter” and “Summer” series, please read the blogpost “First Winter School in Vienna”.

The Summer School provided a valuable opportunity for consortium members to reflect on past activities and urban living labs, ensuring alignment with project goals and outcomes. Through a mix of presentations, workshops, and excursions in Oslo, we gained a better understanding of each other’s local contexts.@Gamlebyen Loft

The Program: A Closer Look
The programme was divided in four key sections, and the following is showcasing how we organized our Summer School.

Project management: where we discussed the importance of communication and how to improve a communication strategy with youth, especially on social media. A bonus lecture by Einar Holthe, founder of Natural State, shared insights into the Natural State way, particularly focusing on place development  and sustainable economics. Natural State’s perspective added a valuable layer to our discussions. At the end of the week, we organized a hybrid consortium meeting about upcoming deliverables and roadmap for the project.

Urban Living Lab: where we had a dialogue and discussed our challenges, findings and improvement for the upcoming activities. Not to mention, XWhy organized an interesting and practical workshop reflecting on working with youth. Three main questions were discussed. How to reach high youth engagement? How to make ULLs a contact point between different stakeholders? How to implement relevant placemaking practices? Furthermore, Paulina from KTU had a great talk and helped us reflect on the future publication and what strategy we could pursue.

Cross-learning & Learning outcomes: where we clarified our aims for the summer school, and by the end of the week wrapped it all together with concrete to-dos for the future.

During all these sessions, we mixed the programme with different Excursions and Activities, where we visited several placemaking projects in Oslo with youth participation. Followed by other relevant projects, expert talks and walks in the Bydel Gamle Oslo district of Oslo.

Exploring Oslo Through Excursions: Think New.
To better understand our experience about the different excursions, please take a look at the soft pink highlight on our Instagram. The following is a short introduction of the places we visited.

The first excursion unfolded at the picturesque Linderud Manor in Oslo’s Bjerke district, home to EdiCitNet’s Living Lab —the Linderud community garden. Job training, outdoor teaching for local school children, summer job opportunities for teenagers, and urban food entrepreneurship, are activities unfolded here. After an introduction by Kimberly, a project veteran from Nabolagshager, now affiliated with Natural State, along with a local city farmer and other on-site initiatives, offered us valuable insights into the project’s significance. Witnessing firsthand the impact on the youth, one participant expressed gratitude for the chance to work, learn, and forge new relationships, particularly in a district with low-income families and low job opportunities for youth. To cap off the bustling day, the local chef, Jorge, crafted a delightful veggie/halal wrap using hand-picked vegetables from the garden.

On the second excursion, our journey led us from the office to a nearby playground and skating park, a creation of GSF – Gamlebyen Sport og Fritid (Old City Sport and Recreation). Established by local neighbors in 1999, this grassroot organization has been in operation since then, with a primary aim of offering free activities for the local community. Currently, they host complimentary graffiti courses, painting classes, skating workshops, and various other activities tailored for children, youth, and adults, aligning with Oslo’s changing seasons.

After strolling through this vibrant area, we hopped on the red bus to Grønland, just a 6-minute ride from Gamlebyen. Here, our focus turned to Olafiagangen—an activity and playground space designed for children, youth, and families. This initiative, a temporary project funded by the Oslo municipality and developed by stakeholders, was crafted by locals, volunteers, and youths through a job program. It offered the community the chance to borrow bicycles, footballs, and table tennis equipment for free, providing access to multipurpose courts.

A quick metro journey away brought us to Tøyen, where we explored an entertaining playground, attempting to reconnect with our inner child. Positioned between the Metro, Tøyen elementary school, and Tøyen Square, we observed various projects funded by the Oslo municipality and local initiatives, closely clustered together. A common thread among these projects was active participation and engagement involving neighbors and youths, often in collaboration with youth clubs.


Our third adventure unfolded with Anne Beate Hovind, a visionary urban developer and placemaker. Her captivating talk centered around The Future Library and Losæter. The Future Library is an artistic project by Scottish artist Katie Paterson. Each year, a different author is invited to contribute a manuscript, and these manuscripts are kept sealed and stored in a specially designed room in the Deichmanske public library in Oslo, for 100 years. Losæter is situated in the Bjørvika neighborhood. It aims to explore and promote sustainable urban living, agriculture, and cultural initiatives. Losæter is a great project that showcases the importance of collaboration between different disciplines and stakeholders.

We first met Anne Beate at Deichmanske library, where she guided us through the project’s narratives and challenges. At first, no one wanted to invest in the project, but her effort and ongoing drive managed to implement the project as part of the Deichmanse library.

@Deichmanske library
@Deichmanske library

Following this enlightening talk, we embarked on a stroll from the library to Losæter, traversing the new Bjørvika area, passing iconic landmarks like the Munch Museum and Oslo Opera House. Arriving at Losæter, Anne Beate explained the project’s core concept, the collaboration with Futurefarms, the Flatbread society and how it is organized now. The venue hosts a multitude of events throughout the year, including school programs for youth. Beneath the blue sky and radiant sun, our involvement began under the guidance of the city farmer at Losæter. Every Wednesday is an open day, allowing everyone to participate in and contribute to the community garden. It was an enriching experience, fostering learning, connections, and shared efforts. Some were engaged in outdoor tasks, while others prepared a communal feast using the garden’s produce. The day concluded with a delectable meal, a testament to the success and vibrancy of the community at Losæter. Personally, I found that the food had a more satisfying taste when earned through hands-on effort.

In the spirit of continued exploration, collaboration, and thinking anew, let’s shape the future of urban living together!