branding oil: Stavanger

Stavanger, Norway

Stavanger is Norway's Calgary, in that it is the site of oil companies' head offices for the offshore oil industry.  Once could say that the oil sands were offshore for Calgary as well, as it doesn't have to deal with any of the environmental or social fallout associated with oil extraction.

Stavanger, I read on Science Nordic, is seeking to re-brand itself, acknowledging that the association with oil will not always be positive if climate change continues to threaten our existence.  Evidently, Stavanger is 'historically Norway's teetotallers' town and also the golden buckle of the country's bible belt'.  Its pre-oil industry was canning, but curiously has 'no distinct proletarian culture', unlike Oslo.  I feel as if I am reading all sorts of things between the lines, but can't understand what they mean.  

With neither history nor the proletariat suitable for a modern brand, they are working on Stavanger as an energy town (their italics).  What a surprise.  Calgary's newest brand, coincidentally, is 'Catch the Energy'.  The vagueness of energy: it could mean nuclear, solar, wind, nano-technology, wood stoves – it could even mean people doing a lot of jogging.  It will do well for the future as almost anything can be fitted to it.  

This being Norway, Stavanger, predictably, has a young architecture firm, Helen & Hard, doing beautiful work.

Helen & Hard. Ipark, an office complex for young, innovative companies in Stavanger, 2012From Helen & Hard's description of this project: 'the design concept is based on a simple principle of stacking prefabricated timber elements to create the façades. By horizontally rotating the elements, two spectacular cantilevers are created accentuating the entrances'. 

Norway has trees, we have trees.  Norway has oil, we have oil.  Norway uses wood extensively: Oslo's airport has a large wood egg-shaped bubble hovering over the concourse, the counters in the train stations are wood, the panelling on the transit carriages is wood.  We, on the other hand, do not use wood extensively. I'm pricing spruce and cedar planks to replace my back deck; I am told by every lumber company that I should buy the plastic wood decking instead.