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Sumit Singhal
Sumit Singhal
Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.

National Museum in Oslo, Norway by Bureau SLA Loos Architects

June 25th, 2011 by Sumit Singhal

Article source: Bureau SLA &Loos Architects

It would be an understatement to call the location for the new National Museum of Norway prominent. Situated close to the waterfront, in-between the city hall, the city centre and the new area of Akerbrygge, it occupies a prime position. Especially for people arriving on cruise ships, this is the vestibule of Oslo. No wonder that it’s also one of the most photographed areas in the city, judging from the photos available on Google Earth.


Museum Oslo model 1

  • Client: Stattsbryg, Noorwegen
  • Design: 2009
  • Area: 50.940 m2
  • Team: Peter van Assche, Miguel Loos,Gonçalo Moreira,Katalin Toth,Ewoud Ruifrok
  • Renderings: Eyal Shmuel

Museum Oslo model 2

The task of the new museum complex should be to connect in a clever and sophisticated manner to the urban tissue, while at the same time reacting sensitively to the existing buildings on the site. As a national museum, of course it has to be an icon — but not an alien. Our building fulfills these requirements. It’s a new landmark, which not only fits into the city structure, but also complements it. It’s highly visible and recognizable, but doesn’t desperately try to steal the show from its neighbours, especially the city hall.


Museum Oslo model 3

Arrangement of volumes
By setting the two new volumes of the museum and the office building slightly back, we create a square in-between the railway buildings and the museum, which functions as a sculpture garden and also serves as a sheltered public forecourt. Instead of only cutting some space for the old buildings out of our volume and thus reducing them to leftovers, we decided to create a square on which the buildings stand as autonomous entities that complement the entire ensemble. The new museum building is big and sturdy enough to take a step back without losing its impact. There are four entrances to the museum on all sides of the building which creates a lively outside space and groundfloor area. All public functions — main entrance, library, museum shop, café and lobby — are situated on this level and have large glass fronts towards the square.

Museum Oslo model 4

Void & Lobby
The footprint of the building has the shape of a simple rectangle, composed of four triangles that have been pushed together. These triangles represent the four departments of the museum. In the centre of the composition of triangles, we cut out a large void, orientated in north-south direction. On a functional level, it serves as a large lobby, measuring 30 metres in height, 40 metres in length and 15 metres in width, around which all the spaces of the museum are arranged. As required, it’s not only the entrance area of the museum, but can also be used for receptions or for staging large installations. Resembling the interior courtyard often found in classic museum buildings, it connects to the roof, which is perforated with rooflights.

Rendering exhibition

Exhibition levels
The two characteristic elements are the controllable entry of daylight and the defining presence of the sloping roof. The roofline is always palpable, lends a unique identity to each of the exhibition spaces without impeding their functionality and facilitates orientation within the exhibition area. It’s perforated to the maximum, but in order to enable excellent light management, there are lamellas under the roof windows. Their position can be adjusted, so the artworks aren’t exposed to direct light, or the room is even completely darkened.

Rendering harbour

True North is at the same time a very systematic and a very playful museum design. Based on a triangle motif, which is remotely reminiscent of the murals by Henrik Sørensen in the town hall of Oslo and which re-appears on all scales of the building, it has a very clear identity, without becoming a simplistic logo. Although unobtrusive in silhouette in order to contribute to and blend into the city fabric, its elegantly shiny material and triangular structure make it a recognizable building. This recognizability informs the outside as well as the inside of the museum, making its interior a white cube with identity – tributary to the artworks, but never generic.

Rendering lobby

Rendering night

Rendering terrace

Diagram 1

Diagram 2

Diagram 3

Diagram 8

Diagram 13

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Category: Museum

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