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Munch Museum in Oslo

A Passive-Energy Building and Cathedral of Sound: Building the Munch Museum in Oslo

The new Munch Museum, designed by Estudio Herreros for Oslo’s old harbour district known as Bjørvika, is slated to open this autumn. The 13-storey new build, unconventional for a museum, does not only set an exclamation mark on the banks of Oslo Fjord, but possesses hidden qualities as well. It is part of the FutureBuilt program, in which ten communities around Oslo Fjord are promoting the construction of energy-efficient model projects. Their CO2 emissions for building, operations and mobility must remain 50% beneath the level of conventional structures. In order to achieve these aims, the Munch Museum was conceived as a passive-energy building.

The thirteen tower storeys are divided into a western, city-facing glazed access area with escalators, and a largely closed-off wing to the east that features exhibition halls, storage rooms and workshops. The architects speak of one static and one dynamic museum component. This refers to the climate concept as well: the storage and exhibition areas are completely climate-controlled. In contrast, the access areas are naturally ventilated in the summertime; actually, they form a solar-heated outlet for used air from the museum spaces. The building has no cellar and stands on 311 foundation piles embedded 30-60 metres into the ground of the fjord. “In principle, you could dive right under the museum”, explains Juan Herreros.

The dynamic part of the museum and the protruding, three-storey base consist primarily of a steel construction. For the concreting work on the static part, building company Veidekke used a slip-form method originally employed in setting up Norwegian oil rigs. After just one month of uninterrupted concrete work, the shell of the museum had already achieved its ultimate height. Only then were the floors and interior walls created with conventional formwork techniques. But before this, a special sound spectacle took place inside the shell, which was hollow and more than 50 metres tall. In January 2017, Norwegian composer Lars Petter Hagen staged his piece Void in the space.

A detailed print documentation is available in our issue DETAIL 10/2020 concerning the topic "Building Envelopes".

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Further articles to the issue DETAIL 10/2020 are available here.

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