Barcelona architects to transform 1930s grain silo into new home for Nordic art

The project balances elegantly between, on one hand, total loyalty to the silo building’s qualities, and on the other, an imaginative attitude to the inherently sculptural and special experiences it affords
– The competition jury

Two Barcelona architecture studios will design “one of the leading art museums in the Nordic region” after winning an international competition to create a new home for the Sørlandets Kunstmuseum in Kristiansand, Norway.

Mestres Wage Arquitectes and MX_SI Architectural Studio from Barcelona will transform a former 1930s wharf-side grain silo into an elegant complex anchoring the city’s new cultural quarter.

The design – which was selected over 100 other anonymous proposals from 17 countries – places a series of simple architectural volumes around the silo. These will house the main permanent exhibition spaces and a shop and cafe, while the existing building will be subtly renovated and mostly used to contain large new public spaces for visitors circulating through the museum. Views of the city and the wharf are precisely placed throughout the site, while outdoor public spaces will host urban activities and connect users with the surrounding neighbourhood.

The criteria set by the competition’s judging panel included high quality exhibition spaces; an “exciting and new” use of the silo; a good urban planning strategy; the feasibility of the project; and its environmentally sustainability.

“With a simple and powerful strategy, the project demonstrates a crystal-clear combination of architectural self-assurance and humble respect for the silo building and its newly assigned task,” said the jury in their citation.

“The project balances elegantly between, on one hand, total loyalty to the silo building’s qualities, and on the other, an imaginative attitude to the inherently sculptural and special experiences it affords. With a few uncompromising cuts into the silo’s interior, a subdued yet monumental volume with controlled top-lighting opens up and gives the whole museum a strong and unique character.”

Jury chair and Kristiansand mayor, Harald Furre, added: “We plan to build a landmark cultural powerhouse for the region and the nation. We believe this is one of Norway’s most exciting museum buildings. It’s also exciting that we have a winner from Barcelona, the home of the architect Antoni Gaudí.”

The Sørlandets Kunstmuseum was established in 1995 by the counties of Aust-Agder and VestAgder to collect, document, preserve and research Norway’s modern art. Every year it presents in-house exhibitions, touring exhibitions, lectures, workshops and educational projects.

The new building will house 1,500 works, including the Tangen Collection – an important collection of art from 1930–1970.

The grain silo, which opened in 1935, is one of Norway’s most critically acclaimed buildings. It was the first concrete building in the country to be cast with the help of a ‘sliding formwork’ – moveable moulds on scaffolding.

A timeframe for construction of the new museum complex has not yet been announced.

Sørlandets Kunstmuseum  Kristiansand  Norway  Mestres Wage Arquitectes  MX_SI Architectural Studio  architecture  design 
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Two Barcelona architecture studios will design “one of the leading art museums in the Nordic region” after winning an international competition to create a new home for the Sørlandets Kunstmuseum in Kristiansand, Norway. Mestres Wage Arquitectes and MX_SI Architectural Studio from Barcelona will transform a former 1930s wharf-side grain silo into an elegant complex anchoring the city’s new cultural quarter. The design – which was selected over 100 other anonymous
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The design – which was selected over 100 other anonymous proposals from 17 countries – places a series of simple architectural volumes around the silo / Mestres Wage Arquitectes and MX_SI Architectural Studio
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