The history of The Thief Island

16. May 2024
Throughout the history, waterfront neighborhoods has served as meeting places. After centuries of development, a place such as was no longer to be found in Oslo - until it was decided that the "Fjord City" was the future. This year marks the 10th anniversary since Tjuvholmen was fully developed.

From execution site to the fjord's gathering point

Tjuvholmen has a history dating back to the 17th century, known as an execution site among other things. The name originates from the fact that the place was notorious as a haunt for dubious characters and thieves. Later, Tjuvholmen served various purposes including as a country estate, a cow pasture, a pottery, and public baths for ladies and gentlemen on the east and west sides respectively.

From 1982 until the early 2000s, the buildings on Tjuvholmen were used as warehouses, freight terminals, offices, and premises including for the State Ballet School and Opera School.

Where the fjord and people meet

Throughout history, waterfront neighborhoods have been meeting places. After centuries of development, such a place was no longer to be found in Oslo - until it was decided that the "Fjord City" was the future.

In 2003, the developers Selvaag / Aspelin Ramm purchased the area of Tjuvholmen from Oslo Havn KF. The sale marked the start of the "Fjord City" and was the result of a unique conceptual competition in 2002, where investors and architects worked together to propose the development of the area. On December 18, 2002, the Oslo City Council selected the proposal "Utsyn" by Selvaag Gruppen As, Aspelin-Ramm Gruppen As, and architect Niels Torp as the urban development project for Tjuvholmen.

Urban development of Tjuvholmen began in 2005, and the first residents moved in the fall of 2007. The entire Tjuvholmen was completed in 2014 with residential buildings, office buildings, the hotel THE THIEF, and the landmark building Astrup Fearnley Museum designed by one of the world's leading museum architects, the Italian Renzo Piano.

Tjuvholmen's three islands:

Tjuvholmen consists of three parts, separated by canals to take advantage of the proximity to the water; the cape, the islet, and the reef. Several Norwegian architects, including Niels Torp Architects, Kristin Jarmund, MAD, Kari Nissen Brodtkorb, Jensen & Skodvin, and Lund Hagem, have designed their parts of the development. Landscape architect for the reef and the islet was Gullik Gulliksen AS, and the overarching sketch and parts of the cape and the islet were designed by Bjørbekk & Lindheim Landskapsarkitekter. Danish Schmidt Hammer Lassen, Finnish Gullichsen Vormala, and the world-renowned Italian architect Renzo Piano have also carried out projects on Tjuvholmen.

The latter is behind the Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art, which is an important part of Tjuvholmen. The building was completed in August 2012. Renzo Piano is known for, among other things, the Centre Pompidou in Paris, but has also designed observation towers, sculpture parks, bridges, and canals on Tjuvholmen. The Tjuvholmen sculpture park is located around Renzo Piano's museum building and was developed in collaboration with the renowned art center Louisiana outside Copenhagen.

On Tjuvholmen, you'll also find the hotel The Thief - one of the city's most splendid hotels. Like the surrounding area, The Thief is adorned with modern art.

Parking is located in an underwater parking garage with 800 parking spaces, so all streets and squares on Tjuvholmen are car-free.

Tjuvholmen as a vibrant urban city centre

Selvaag and Aspelin Ramm are the developers who have transformed Tjuvholmen. The transformation has shown us that when nature, experiences, architecture, and residences are combined, a city place that brings people together has been created.