On 21 August 2015, the Kimen Cultural Centre in Stjørdal, Norway, designed by Reiulf Ramstad Arkitekter (RRA), was opened in the presence of Crown Prince Haakon, the younger child of King Harald V of Norway.
The area was an empty urban lot of about twenty thousand square metres, at the intersection of two major roads, the Ole Vigs Gate, leading to the railway station, and the Stokkanvegen. A central area of the city characterised by commercial and industrial activities, in contrast to the single-family timber homes with double-pitched roofs surrounded by greenery. This synthesis of contrasting elements seems to have provided inspiration for the designers of the Reiulf Ramstad Arkitekter (RRA) studio, invited in 2010 to submit a project for the design of the cultural centre of Stjørdal. They were awarded the commission in collaboration with Lusparken Architects, JSTA Architects and Shcønherr Landscaping. Under the architectural programme of Stjørdal city council and Stjørdal Kulturutvikling AS, the project combines in one representative piece of architecture, several concert halls, a library, a church, a movie theatre and the classrooms of the Stjørdal Culture and Music School. Taking advantage of the town’s growth prospects, the presence of Trondheim-Vaernes airport, in addition to fast rail links to the north and south of the country and with Sweden, the Kimen Cultural Centre aspires to be an important cultural hub, not only for the town’s 20,000 residents but also for the entire region of Værnes, in the centre of Norway.
This aspiration to modernity is symbolized by a structure in concrete and black steel and glass façades partially covered by a metal grill, which obscures and provides greater protection for the last two levels. On the ground level, floor-to-ceiling windows establish that visual communication between the interior and the exterior, between the public area and the semi-public area, between the city and the buildings, found in many recently built museums and cultural facilities around the world. Transparency ensures the absence of barriers, especially cognitive barriers, between the education offer and local residents, which in the past discouraged the use of spaces like this for the benefit created purely for entertainment.
There are numerous interesting elements inside the building: the great spherical lamps that create a sort of imaginary route, for adults and children; the steps that can be used as seating to read and chat in an informal setting; the monumental black spiral staircase encased in green rubber, which when illuminated becomes a real landmark; the spruce panelling, which, by contrast, introduces a sense of domesticity to attenuate the technological language of the building.
This feature has come to be part of Reiulf Ramstad Arkitekter research in respect of the analysis of the landscape context. Completing a project at the cutting edge of technology in many ways (constructive, systems, etc.), the roof was designed by rebuilding an imaginary profile of the typical local timber houses with double-pitched roofs. Over and above everything, the roofs of Stjørdal still dominate.
Architects: Reiulf Ramstad Arkitekter (RRA) with Lusparken Architects, JSTA Architects and Shcønherr Landscaping
Client: Stjørdal Municipality and Stjørdal Kulturutvikling AS
Location: Stjørdal, Sør-Trøndelag (Norway)
Structural design: Rambøll
Gross useable floor space: 17,500 m2
Start of work: 2010
Completion of work: 2015
Structure in concrete and steel
Façades in lacquered expanded metal and glass
Indoor surfaces: wall in concrete and spruce panels
Outdoor surfaces: lacquered expanded metal
Floors: concrete and rubber
Photographs: Arne Wang, Søren Harder Jensen, Wenzel Prokosch, RRA