The Astrup Fearnley Museet in Oslo, Norway is the result of a collaboration between Renzo Piano Building Workshop and Narud Stokke Wiig Architects. This architectural masterpiece is located in the newly built Tjuvholmen neighbourhood jutting into the city’s harbour. More than just a museum for modern art, it is a multi-faceted complex including the museum, office buildings, a park, beach and harbour-front promenade. The aspen timber-clad buildings are sheltered under a single adjoined swooping glass roof inspired by the sails of the ships that still ply the harbour’s waters. “This is an iconic complex in the centre of the city,” explains Hossam Gadalla, Project Architect. “The roof unites all the different activities into a single entity.”
When it came to creating the art galleries of the museum, the design team wanted a monolithic ceiling with the same geometry as the roof. “We needed a ceiling that was neutral and strong – neutral because it shouldn’t overshadow the works on display, yet strong because it needed to reflect the personality of the roof.” At the same time, the ceiling had to fulfil a long list of acoustic and technical requirements. “We were really impressed by ROCKFON. The quality of their Mono Acoustic TE ceiling system enabled us to achieve what we wanted both technically and architecturally. ROCKFON understands architecture; the choice really paid off. When you look up, you see the wooden beams, and the ceiling spans the spaces between with the same double curvature as the roof.”
The Astrup Fearnley Museum of Contemporary Art is to reopen on 29 September in Tjuvholmen, the newest arts district of Oslo.
Previously located at Dronningensgtate 4 for 18 years, the privately owned museum is now part of the new Icon Complex, developed by Selvaag Gruppen and Aspelin-Ramm Gruppen, and designed by Renzo Piano Building Workshop in collaboration with Narud Stokke Wiig architects.
The new Icon Complex, part of the wider Tjuvholmen development, comprises an art museum, office building and a culture centre, all constructed on reclaimed land. The three buildings are covered by a striking double-curved roof - a design inspired by a bicycle tyre - that slopes down to touch the landscape. The roof is made up of over 2,000 unique panes of glass that allow natural light to illuminate the exhibition spaces.
Arup provided specialist lighting input for all gallery areas of the complex, with a focus on providing an integrated approach to daylight and electric lighting use. We also provided daylight design services for all areas of the project, which included the office building and the interior atrium.
To mark the reopening of the museum, an exhibition entitled “To be with art is all we ask” will be launched, featuring selected works from the Astrup Fearnley Collection.
Project Director Arfon Davies said: “Daylight in Norway, particularly in the winter months, is precious. With this in mind, we designed a roof system that allows as much winter sun in as possible and, through a series of layers, diffuses and redirects this light for use inside the gallery. The roof system effectively provides the opportunity for people to see more exhibits in daylight and the reduction in the use of electric lighting results in significant energy savings.”
RPBW was commissioned to build a new home for the permanent collection of the Astrup Fearnley Museum, a separate space for its temporary exhibitions, and an office building with its own exhibition area for a private art collection. Three timber-clad buildings shelter under a single swooping glass roof in a newly landscaped public sculpture garden.
A tour of the museum takes the visitor on a journey through ten rooms and includes all three buildings. The Art Museum, on the north side of the canal that cuts through the middle of the site, houses the Astrup Fearnley’s permanent collection of contemporary art. This building connects at ground level underneath the main stair and piazza on Tjuvholmen Allee, into the ground floor of the adjacent office building, where a private art collection is displayed.
To the south, over a footbridge across the canal, is the museum’s space for temporary exhibitions. Gallery space is spread over two floors, giving the visitor a diverse range of spaces and volumes to experience, shaped by the curve of the sloping roof and lit via a spectacular skylight. An exterior roof terrace at second floor level provides a generous exhibition space for sculpture.
The four-storey office building is arranged around a central, day-lit atrium. Conference rooms and terraces on the upper floors take advantage of the spectacular views.
The landscaping of the surroundings was an integral part of the project. A promenade along the waterfront links Tjuvholmen back to the city centre. The cafe, a beach for swimming, and the sculpture park are all designed to attract a diverse range of visitors and create a truly public space.
One of the most prominent elements of this project is the huge glass roof that soars over the complex, linking the buildings together and giving the development a presence on the waterfront. Its curved shape, formed by laminated wood beams, crosses the canal between the buildings. The beams are supported by slender steel columns, reinforced with cable rigging, which refer to the maritime character of the site. On Skjaeret, the roof almost touches the ground. A small pond prevents people from climbing on the glass.
The glass on the roof has a white ceramic frit, reducing its transparency by 40%. On the facades, wherever possible, low-iron glass has been used to enhance transparency and to minimise the discoloration of the light into the exhibition spaces.
The museum opened to the public on september 29, 2012.