NINA – Noorwegian Institute for Nature Research

Pir II Architekt as Architects

Pir II proposed a simple conceptual approach for differentiating between several layers of the institute´s activities. The project focused much on the use of natural wooden materials, both as load-bearing structures and cladding.

The concrete base of the project is shaped on the metaphor of a glacier. It holds a semi-public meeting center, laboratories, technical and storage spaces. On top of the glacier stands a wooden box which is an office block in four stories. In between is the ground floor with the main entrance, library and a shared cafeteria.

The load-bearing slabs of the office block are made out of 170mm thick elements of massive

wood. The size of each element is appr. 1,2x4,2 m, and there are approximately 5000 elements in total. The elements have their underside exposed to the interior of the story beneath.

The building has a passive house energy standard for office buildings. To avoid the need for mechanical cooling, Pir II designed exterior solar shadings of the same wood as the cladding. The exterior shading also reduce the need for venetian blinds and help maximising the daylight quality of the interior. The shaders, combined with several semi-climatised spaces integrated in the façade, have become a main architectural feature of the building.

The massive wood elements have exposed undersides. This aids in the natural adjustment of the humidity and improves the the indoor air quality. The inside of the exterior walls are covered with wooden panels mounted with gaps. In this way the thick insulation of the wall acts as a sound absorbent, and the acoustic environment is greatly improved.



NINA – Norwegian Institute for Nature Research (Norsk institutt for naturforskning)


Pir II Arkitektkontor AS



Agraff Arkitektur (Landcape architecture)

Cox Strategisk Design (Interior architecture, together with Pir II Arkitektkontor)

Rambøll AS (Consulting engineer building/construction, building physics, fire, energy)

COWI AS (Consulting engineer heat, ventilation and sanitary technique and acoustics)

Prosjektutvikling  Midtnorge AS (Consulting engineer electrical engineering)


Photo credits:

Sindre Karlsen

Matthias Herzog


Fritz Hansen as Manufacturers

Like a light shining between the trees "At the start, we were afraid of being criticized for being too attention-grabbing," says Advisor Erik Sandnes about the quality that characterizes the head office, which was taken into use by the applied ecological research institute NINA in 2013. Today, people come up here in search of inspiration for projects based elsewhere, while the locals pay a visit to eat in the canteen.

When the private foundation "Norwegian Institute for Nature Research" (NINA) launched an architectural competition for a new head office, the wish was for a remarkable and contemporary building that sent out a positive and clear architectural message. References should be made to NINA's key business area – ecological research. Norwegian PIR II came up with the solution, which today attracts far more visitors to the place than just its employees. Designed around the Norwegian landscape The building stands on cement foundations, formed to resemble a glacier. Here is where the building's shared facilities can be found – reception, canteen and meeting room. Above them, the building's four remaining floors rise upwards from its foundations with wooden facades and glass partitions in a varied rhythm, making the building appear alive, lightweight and filled with sunlight, yet also firm and resilient – like a light shining in a forest. A meeting of people It's through the meeting of people, that knowledge is exchanged and ideas developed. This fact was so intrinsic to the concept of the building that its owner, NINA, treated the development of the shared facilities as an independent project, which PIR II were also responsible for. The architects made no compromises on quality in their proposals; NINA accepted the high standard. "A little hesitantly at the start. But we are in no doubt today that it has been worth it," says Sandnes. The environmental health assessment scores are through the roof. The soft acoustics, airy ambiance, the fall of the light and the feeling of natural materials create a working environment, that is unparalleled. Quality and simplicity emphasize the feel of the wood The canteen in particular has come to play a very special role. Its pure, simple floor is a massive plate of white corian. This effect is further strengthened by the chalk-white Ant™chairs, which with their completely clean lines and classic expression, provide the space with a calm and a lightness that is almost poetic in its character. This minimalism especially accentuates the tall wooden panels, bringing nature right into the space with its warm, organic structures. "This adds positive PR value, but above all else it offers a workplace, whose employees really enjoy being here," Erik Sandnes concludes.

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ManufacturersMetra | Smarter locker systemStorage locker system
ManufacturersFritz Hansen
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