Munch Museum

by | 30. Jul 2012

Cultural | Feature

Photo courtesy Herreros

The competition for the Munch Area in the Bjorvika neighborhood involved an opportunity to develop a complete city fragment, with the Munch Museum as the focus, in an enclave soon due to become essential for Oslo’s life and image.

The recently finished Opera House (arcspace feature), the BarCode complex under construction, the projected Library and the Munch Museum and planned housing, offices and shops will end up extending the city centre and opening it out to the sea, thus ending the historical rejection that so many coastal cities have maintained with respect to their coastlines.

Photo courtesy Herreros

On activating Oslo’s desire to show itself as a multifunctional “fjord city”, we are consciously designing the postcard that everybody wants; the front of the city and its geographical context at the end of the fjord. This is where nature capital and historical memory intersect in order to project a future vision of an active and diverse city.

The submissions had to be anonymous, so, we were required to provide a title-motto as ID. Because of the water component (bay/fjord), we thought of waves intersecting, spaces in-between, moments that Munch spoke of often. Lambda, being the symbol for wavelength, then became our image, reflected by the facades’ surface and transparency…


The project proposes a series of spaces which use the slivered water mirror, the surrounding fjells, and the vibrancy of the city to create a major attraction – Oslo’s new public waterfront.

The Canal Walk is an essential piece of the public space, which accompanies the river and carefully treats the river banks as a place to be for sunbathing and nautical activities. On the side of the opera house, the existing project and the plan for mooring for small boats is respected. On the project side, the architects are treating the public space as an extended plaza which may be used for strolling, relaxing and as an esplanade for rowing.

Photo courtesy Herreros

Photo courtesy Herreros

The Canal walk leads up to the main entrance of the Museum and also continues to the Museum Island. The Munch Plaza is designed as a grove of trees, announcing the museum entrance area from the distance along the harbor promenade. The grove acts as an intermediating zone between the museum to the south and the housing to the north. The grove is also an assembly point for visitors before moving on to the main entrance, defining the edge of the museum complex.

The future complex formed by the Munch Museum and the Stenersen Museum Collections is not only to safeguard and disseminate a basic heritage of the history and character of Norwegian culture; we find ourselves faced with a unique opportunity to develop a contemporary museum concept drawn from a transcendental urban role and a historical responsibility as a cohesive element for the community not only of Oslo but of all the nation.


The building is located “on the side” at the end of the Pauselkia Peninsula to intensify the tension between the fjord and the solid ground. Two independent pieces divide the program into “dynamic” (spaces of free access, public uses and circulations) and “static” (the museum itself).

Photo courtesy Herreros

The fundamental pieces in the dynamic space are the lobby and the vertical public circulation system. The lobby continues the treatment of the open space making it enter the building as a portion of the covered plaza. This houses the reception, main restaurant, event hall, cinema, spaces for the sponsors, shops and the exhibition about the history of Edvard Munch.

Photo courtesy Herreros

Lobby and circulations, the “dynamic” progrm, involve a kinetic experience, both for the users and for the image of the building, through the transparencies of its West facade.

The “static” space is made up of a succession of exhibition rooms and the operational sections of the museum.

The two parts are resolved with different structures and materials; concrete for the “static” program, steel for the “dynamic” program. The metallic structure, which makes up the stack of circulations and the plinth, offers the maximum open space and lightness in contrast with the tectonic presence of the museum’s volume.

The facades are covered with an external protection, based on an undulating translucent surface which, stimulated by the variations in natural light, as well as the building’s own artificial light, expressed the volumes.

For every building and/or urban project, the architect’s strategy consists of an early analysis of the layout, and the external influences on the proposed site, to optimize the building form, orientation and building fabric. For Lambda they will be pursuing national research guidelines proposed by agencies such as SINTEF, maintaining a LEED Certificate as base requirement.

Lambda creates a generous invitation both to the Museum and to the public access of the area in general. The location of the Museum on Paulsenkaia leaves the area south of the Opera open to a public park and recreational landmark in the middle of the bay overlooking the fjord, in close contact both with the Opera and the Museum.

The project strengthens the river mouth, opens the landscape and gives public access to both sides of the river all the way out to the fjord. The position between Akerselva and Stasjonsallmenningen connects the Museum to the commons as well as to the harbour promenade and fixes the urban vision of the area as a whole. The main entrance facing north connects the building to the urban fabric and city centre.

/The competition jury

Drawing courtesy Herreros Site Planmunch_8.jpg
Drawing courtesy HerrerosPlanmunch_9.jpg
Drawing courtesy HerrerosSetion

Model photo courtesy Herreros