Munch + Stenersen Unveiled

“001100” by Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Various Architects

At 12:00 noon March 27’th, the winner of the Munch + Stenersen Museum competition will be announced by Hav Eiendom and we can finally present our project here. Our project is not among the 3 prized projects, but we still consider our collaboration with Diller Scofidio + Renfro a success, and we are already applying for a new competition together as a team. All of the projects have been on public display at the exhibition hall at Tullinløkka, and online for the past two weeks, listed anonymously under their project mottos. Our enigmatic team motto “001100” received a lot of praise and interest from the public at the exhibition.

Introductory text from the project description:


The Munch+Stenersen Museum must exploit the rarest of opportunities: to celebrate Edvard Munch and other important Norwegian artists of the Modern era on an exceptional site of national identity — the Oslofjord. The building should at once evoke “Norwayness” and also connect to a global culture beyond its borders. It should embody the soulful spirit of Munch’s work ranging from the melancholic to the exuberant in an abstract way. As the work of Munch and that of the Stenersen collections pushed the conventions of art in their time, the Museum for this work should push 21st C architectural conventions and contribute to the culture of the architectural discipline.

Siting is the symbol 

We propose to site the Munch+Stenersen Museum at the most dramatic location in Bjørvika, the southern tip of the development area in the harbor, thus extending a zone of distinctive architecture and landscape into the Oslofjord.  As a new national cultural symbol, the Museum will be an icon “of the water.” The water site and all its potential– its industrial history, its scenic beauty and harsh brutality, its mystery and its playfulness, its potential to harness wind and water energy, and its atmospherics—from social to contemplative—will be interpreted into the new building.

Land Swap 

The swapping of Masterplan sites A11 and B5 offers the cultural program the site with the strongest public, civic, and symbolic identity. This swap gives the new development as a whole a powerful orientation toward Oslofjord, elevating its prestige as a clearly defined cultural waterfront. Further, the commercial development will be optimized by increasing the total amount of developable area. Commercial development at B5, in the form of a cultural hotel, will reinforce a consistent mixed use zone, integrating it with the B1 and B4 mixed use sites into a package that increases the overall buildable floor area within the height restrictions while maintaining the main principles of the planning guidelines. Siting all of the residential and commercial structures on the east side of Akerselva offers the benefit of views to the beach, Museum, and Opera, while providing quiet distance from the influx of visitors to these attractions and more immediate connections back to the city. This increase in high quality buildable area can offset the premium cost of the museum on the southerly site.

Museum Organization 

The museum is an amphibious land/water dweller. The programmatic organization of the Museum exploits land, water, and the in-between to create a rich experience for visitors and a clear functional logic for museum staff. The back-of-house space of the museum is land bound at the north, closest to urban support functions. Entry to the museum and visitor related spaces and services dip into the harbor through the sub-aquatic hall and connect to the galleries that dramatically emerge from the water at the southern end in an iconic art tower. This separation of the major building functions by water is both symbolic and functional. It positions the art collections in a site that is free of the everyday, free from distraction, free from time concerns. The separation also allows for a more secure place for the art, elevated off the water with few and highly very visible attenuated routes out of the building.

For museum staff, the northern side of the building includes secure, generous and state-of-the-art loading-receiving and handling facilities, storage, administrative offices, and conservation laboratories. For the public arriving from the north, an all-glass ground floor museum café-bookstore opens out onto the beach to catalyze its social life outside while promoting a library-like atmosphere for lingering and reading within. Visitors to the museum proceed along its sheltered public walk at the water’s edge, descending a gentle grand stair with overlooks into the Lecture Hall / Event Space. Arriving in the sub-aquatic hall, visitors have pre-admission access to the education center, children’s play area, and general information.  From this hall, patrons continue through ticketing and coat check into the museum galleries.  They may alternatively by-pass the museum and rejoin the public sequence via an outdoor stair to the winter garden and destination restaurant. Ascending to the art experience, the gallery structure cranes towards the fjord to the south, providing visitors with alternating views of the sea and the city while circulating through the building.The circulation path culminates in a spectacular framed view of the islands in the fjord from the uppermost gallery and a panoramic view back to Oslo from the roof garden. Museum visitors will enter the building on land, then dip underwater for ticketing and guest service functions before ascending the galleries by stair or elevator. This sequence bypasses the public space at the water’s edge while still offering glimpses of the water along the way. A continuous spiral of circulation takes visitors through four floors of galleries sheared in section into eight half levels. The Munch and Stenersen collections can be zoned independently; they could crossover or could be blended. North-facing galleries augment artificial lighting with controlled clerestory light, while south-facing galleries are artificially lit with abstracted views to the water below through glass floors along leading edges. The choreography through the museum reveals unexpected moments of orientation and moments of sublime disorientation, while providing spaces to pause and contemplate, receive interpretive information, and refresh the senses. At the roof top, the sculpture garden and espresso bar provide 360-degree views of the fjord and the city.

As the Museum will be the next member of the ensemble of cultural buildings in Bjørvika, much attention has been given to the location and image of the new building in relation to the Opera. The museum is biomorphic to contrast the geomorphic language of the Opera. The two buildings, however, share a sympathetic palette of materials and scale, and express the sense of a new monumentality as the space of the public.

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