Tunnelen: The Ammerud Underpass

In Ammerud, Norway, a dark disused railway underpass has been reborn as a play space with climbing wall and exercise equipment to turn a public eyesore into a loved feature of the city.

The Municipality of Oslo, students from AHO (The Oslo School of Architecture and Design) and residents of Ammerud worked together to transform the 30-meter-long underpass from a dark space people would avoid, to a community area where people now love spending time.

“Tunnelen” (“The tunnel”), is now “an underpass of activities”, a social meeting place, and a point of pride for local residents. The previously dark concrete passage is now a well-lit corridor containing a climbing wall, Norway’s longest monkey bar, a creative exercise area, and an illuminated line which not only lights up the underpass but also tells the story of Ammerud.

Tunnelen: The Ammerud Underpass
Tunnelen: The Ammerud Underpass | Before and After

The project team of AHO students, Mikkel Brandt Bugge, Asveig Marie Jellestad and Taral Jansen, began with a simple question:

“Why should an underpass only be used as an underpass?”

Working extensively with local residents, especially the community’s young citizens, the group collectively designed a space that increases public safety and offers a variety of opportunities for play and exercise to improve wellbeing and health.

Beginning with a budget of NOK 500,000 ($58,000 USD), the “strong design delivery” coming from the student project team and community engagement resulted in 1.8 million NOK ($211,000 USD) in support from the Oslo Municipality.

The Ammerud Underpass has received prestigious design awards and honorable mentions and has been featured extensively in national and international media and websites. Bridges and underpasses everywhere have untapped potential, and the Tunnelen proves what can be possible when someone looks at a space and thinks “This Could Be…”.

For a global overview of 44 projects from 17 countries that repurpose urban objects for new use, get a copy of the Reprogramming the City book today!