An urban area with student life, restaurants, housing and activities, a place for new ideas, knowledge, research, industry and start-ups.
«Oslo Science City» is the name of this possible initiative, which will extend from Ullevål, Gaustad and Blindern, Marienlyst to and including Majorstuen as a cohesive knowledge and innovation district in Oslo. The goal is nothing less than a world-leading innovation district. «Oslo Science City» is a feasibility study commissioned by the City of Oslo which was launched on 30 November this year.
– It is actually completely incomprehensible to me that they choose such a name. Universities such as the Sorbonne, Humboldt and other excellent research and educational institutions recruit many talented researchers and students with exactly the names they have, says director of the Language Council, Åse Wetås, to Dagsavisen.
Her criticism goes both to Oslo Science City as the name of the innovation district, but also to the fact that “Oslo Science City station” is a proposed station name for the metro stop Forskningsparken.
Part of our cultural heritage
Copenhagen has Copenhagen Science City, Stockholm has Stockholm Science City, London has Knowledge Quarter and Boston has Kendall Square.
So why not in Oslo? Wetås in the Language Council believes the name Oslo Science City will be in conflict with the rules in the Place Names Act.
– The name is a problem. Both because there is a name in the area from before, which is part of our common cultural heritage, and because it is an English-language name. The Place Names Act provides explicit protection for the existing place name. It says that they can not be replaced with other, new names without further ado, Wetås points out.
This is what the law says: A place name can just be replaced with another name which is in the same language and which has tradition as the name of the same name object. Exceptions can be made if special reasons justify it.
– Unlike other types of cultural monuments, which can be placed in a museum and exhibited, we preserve language and name through use, says Wetås.
The Language Council sent a letter to Oslo Science City about this in February, according to Vårt Oslo, but only received a response after a reminder in July. Chairman Svein Stølen replied in a letter that they propose to add a Norwegian explanation, and call the project «Oslo Science City – The City of Knowledge in Oslo».
The chairman of the board answers
The main goal of Norwegian language policy is to strengthen the use of the Norwegian language in all areas of society, according to the government. Norwegian must be the main language of society.
– For it to work, you need to do things: One is accessible language. The other is confident language users who both see and know that the Norwegian language has status in society, says Åse Wetås.
Svein Stølen, chairman of the board for the innovation project and rector at the University of Oslo, is busy drawing attention to creating through Oslo Science City.
– We must create a lot of value for the country, in the form of many new jobs. That is my main motivation in this project. I think it is extremely important, and with that we also take part in a greater social responsibility, says Stølen to Dagsavisen.
Stølen says that they are already in dialogue with several large, foreign players and investors who have shown interest in the innovation district.
– We make an effort to bring together different knowledge actors, universities, hospitals and institutes, business and finance. If we are to succeed in standing up for a fossil-free society, as an incredibly tough competition, we must work together and in a new way. We absolutely have to, says Stølen.
– Norway is a small country. We must keep up with foreign companies and universities. That is the reason why we have chosen an English name for the innovation district, he adds.
Wetås from the Language Council thinks this is thin argumentation.
The notion that knowledge workers, researchers and business people with long education and a lot of knowledge do not find their way into Oslo, because the innovation district does not have an English name, I think is to underestimate them and to pamper themselves in the face of the outside world, she says.
– Offends democracy
This is not the first time this topic has been in the media, nor is it the first time Wetås has reacted to the choice of name. It was Aftenpostens case that also metro stations can get a new name, which made Wetås react again this week. The current metro station Forskningsparken can thus be named «Oslo Science City station». That made Wetås take to Twitter:
– This is about what it is about when it comes to Norwegian legislation and language policy, which has adopted, Wetås wrote to Dagsavisen.
– It is not much the necessary, it is actually the legislation and the democratic decisions.
Svein Stølen wrote that he is also the Norwegian language and language use. Therefore, he has, among other things, been clear that the life sciences building will retain its name.
– I understand the criticism, but we work in an international context where visibility is important. Therefore, I think this is a good name to get the international attention we are completely dependent on, says Stølen.
To the criticism of possible name changes at metro stations in the innovation district, Stølen replies that the feasibility study for Oslo Science City, which was commissioned by the City of Oslo, was developed by a group of urban planners and architects, who are independent of the board he heads. He also said that Oslo Science City is a member association with eleven parties.
– Personally, I could wish for a subway station with the name «University». Nothing has been decided here, other than that the member associations are called Oslo Science City, he says.
Facts about Oslo Science City
- Oslo Science City is Norway’s first innovation district.
- The eleven parties in the member association are: University of Oslo, SINTEF, Oslo Municipality, Health South-East RHF, Oslo University Hospital, Norwegian Geotechnical Institute, Oslo Cancer Cluster, Ferd, Forskningsparken, Studentsamskipnaden i Oslo and Oslo Pensjonsforsikring.
- The goal is to develop the area from Majorstuen via Marienlyst and Blindern to Gaustad and Ullevål stadium, as well as Radiumhospitalet, to a world-leading innovation district that contributes to a sustainable and modern Norway.
- The feasibility study was launched on 30 November in Oslo City Hall.
Get a daily newsletter from Dagsavisen here!