Program: Culture- and educationareas, 3 cinemas, public library, auditorium with 600 seats and community functions
Area: 24.000 m² (inkl. universitärer Räumlichkeiten)
Photos: Mecanoo Architects
Setting a lively stage: Kongsberg Knowledge and Cultural Centre
Builder: Gemeinde Kongsberg, Bolten Eiendom AS, Vestby
Architects: Code: arkitektur, Mecanoo Architects
Location: 3616 Kongsberg, Hasbergs vei 36 (NO)
The Krona building provides Kongsberg with a further cultural and educational establishment, one that enables interaction between a wide range of disciplines. Erected alongside one of the oldest university buildings in Norway, it primarily provides space for two universities' teaching and technical laboratories and a respective library, yet it likewise accommodates a broad variety of differing functions. The 24,000-square-metre complex thus contains a public library, three cinemas, a large auditorium and rooms for municipal use. These are all organised around a central atrium that helps visitors to intuitively find their way within the building. Access to the various storeys and the rooms on the levels concerned is underscored by a prominently staged, fair-faced concrete stairway, which enables visual connections to public functions and permanent interaction among the visitors.
The cubic volume is placed against one of the site's boundaries, leaving room in the north for a large outdoor space in the form of a kind of amphitheatre. This provides a green backdrop for events, plus it also draws the grounds into the building concept. Pre-fabricated elements made of locally-sourced materials form the façade of rough timber slats that indirectly reference the local architecture while contrasting with the concrete of the interior and silvery accents on the exterior. According to the architects, rooms like the public library are to feel separate and distinct from the actual building and more closely related to the church square below. This impression is underscored by the choice of floor covering in that the stone paving of the surrounding courtyards is drawn into the interior. Even if at first glance the building does not seem to respond to its surroundings, this approach has enabled the architects to achieve a concept of material continuity in subtle fashion.
The postulate of creating a design that fosters liveliness in the building is expressed in the flexible uses to which it can be put. The main auditorium, which can be deployed as a theatre, is a case in hand, as are various other smaller spaces. In the evening the canteen becomes a public cafe, the public library serves as a theatre foyer and the art gallery transforms into a bar for the film centre. A number of assembly rooms are able to accommodate a range of events such as lectures, readings, meetings, concerts and so on and the lecture theatres at the heart of the building are equipped to handle a variety of uses and configurations. Designed to be as open and flexible as possible, the respective entertainment spaces create a vibrant, social atmosphere. At the same time large expanses of glass form a visual connection to the neighbouring buildings and the urban context. All in all, the centre forges a link between knowledge and culture in an adaptive and flexible way, namely with an unusual typology that holds itself back while seeking to provide a setting for various uses by visitors.