Urban Conservation in Urban Planning – A Study of the Urban Planning Discourse in Trondheim

The city history of Norway is largely about the development of wooden towns. Wood was the dominant building material in most Norwegian towns from the Middle Ages until the city fire in Ålesund in 1904. Even though towns were often ravaged by fire, there was still great reluctance to change the architectural style. Cities were usually rebuilt as before, until new laws prohibited the use of wood in urban areas and introduced a completely new architectural style that broke with the wooden city’s typology. When the modernization of the towns started after the last World War, the old wooden areas were suffering from years of neglected maintenance. The building stock could not be reconciled with new demands for greater building volumes and more efficient buildings. Much was lost before a new understanding of the value of the historic city centers, and the idea that a modern city must take care of its historical traces, created a new paradigm in the urban discourse. Based on the debate in Trondheim from about 1960 until the present, I will explain in this article the emergence of the protective concept in urban planning, who the actors were and how they contributed in getting the building conservation and protection of historical urban environment an important place in modern urban planning.