Munch Museum and Deichman Library in Oslo competition results

Bjørvika, a harbour in the eastern part of Oslo, , has become a hot spot for architectural innovation. We have the brand new Oslo Opera by SNOHETTA and the recent competition for the Oslo Central Station awarded to Space Group.

And a recent planning/design competition -actually 2 competitions- just added two cultural buildings to the harbour: the Munch-Area, which will have the new Munch-museum with a collection of the Stenersenmuseum, and the Deichman axis withav the Deichman Library.

Both competitions included invited practices and a stage on which practices applied for pre-qualification.

You can see the list of practices for the Munch Museum here. And the Deichman library here.

The winning project for the Munch Museum was Lambda, by Herreros Arquitectos. The winning project for the Deichman Library was Diagonale, by and Atelier Oslo. See all the winners after the break.


First Prize

Lambda / Herreros Arquitectos
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 choice of location and the urban form of the building makes Lambda stand out as a beautiful contemporary museum worthy of displaying the important combined collections in the centre of Bjørvika at the edge of the fjord. The building adds to the silhouette of the Opera with a slight verticality, choosing a posture which shows a double attention towards the fjord and the city. The new building communicates with the Opera on the same level of importance and opens the new reading of the landscape and introduce a new type of public space and openness in the area.

The concept of the Museum is flexible and invites to create new relationships between the two institutions. Separate exhibition areas connected with a generous vertical communication makes it easy to compose and change different exhibitions. Both Munch and Stenersen can be expressed and redefined inside as well as outside the building.

It is light and translucent in contrast to the opera. It is displaying the movement of people in the facade in contrast to the people walking on the roof of the Opera. The Museum talks with both sides of the bay by
placing the exhibition and working space east and communication and public flows facing west.

Lambda makes a public vertical statement that is more powerful than the commercial high-rise zone to the north. It is a statement of art and public accessibility to the fjord. The building is elegant and iconic in its simplicity and will be a light tower in the fjord introducing an amazing place for people enjoying the unique landscape of Oslo.

Download full information of the project here.

Second Prize

Girls on the bridge / Christ Gantenbein Architects/ Lie Øyen Arkitekter
Girls on the Bridge place the Museum at the eastern side of the river. The large, simple building and the geometrically very clear park, picks up a scale that it is common for the opera, Bjørvikutstikkeren and Bispevika.

The project is chosen due to its localization and its strong organizing effect on Bjørvika. Furthermore it is chosen for its intention of developing the museum into a large general art hall and the possibility to develop an elastic and flexible museum.

The project reads as an idea project, and not as a fully functional and architecturally elaborated project.

Download full information of the project here.

Second Prize

Yin Yang / REX Architects
Yin Yang is placed on the far end of Bjørvikutstikkeren. The project proposes a dense, one level display of the exhibition areas which are totally entoured by an open, glassed surface fully accessible to the public all the way around the building.

The project is ranked for the clear and strong concept an organization of a contemporary museum. The location of the museum on A11 is difficult in relationship with the opera and the river mouth. The concern deals with the fact that the building will be an obstacle to contact with and view to the Fjord from the Akerselva common, the park area in front of the Opera and the Opera roof.

The project’s organizing of the professional working zones on level 0 creates difficult conditions for daylight, and must be rearranged if the project is to be fully acceptable for the purpose. The project reads as an idea project, and not as a fully functional and architecturally elaborated project.

Download full information of the project here.


First Prize

Diagonale / Lund Hagem Arkitekter and Atelier Oslo
The motto Diagonale seems to refer to both the sight line requirement, which has a distinct influence of the shape of the library, and the diagonal street that divides the A9 plot to give visual as well as functional access from the Akerselva Common to the Opera. The urban and commercial concept is very good.

Diagonale has a very good solution for the library. It neither has too many nor too few floors, and organizes the library around a beautifully shaped inner space that spans the building from roof to ground level. Diagonale consistently received the best rating from the librarians in the jury, and the general acclaim of the rest of the jury. Architecturally this is a proposal with great potential, while at the same time respectful of the position of the Opera.

Diagonale scored best on environmental issues of all entries. It can meet energy objectives well below official requirements and is well ahead of all others. The outer skin only has 20% windows. 80% is clad with a translucent nano-gel wall with very strong insulation qualities. This allows the library to be not only innovative in terms of library solutions, but also in technical matters. Future reductions of amissiones and energy use will depend strongly on innovation. The jury wants to emphasize this.

Download full information of the project here.

Second Prize

Meeting place/divercity/openness/exploration / SHL
Meeting Place has many features that resemble the winning entry. It has a cantilever solution that gives the front area a fine entrance plaza. The number of floors may be a little high but the jury feels this can be amended. The library revolves around a very beautiful inner atrium that spans the construction from roof to the ground.

On the environmental side, Meeting Place has far too much glass to fulfill official requirements. This alone makes it inacceptable as a future library without very serious modifications.

Download full information of the project here.

Fourth Prize

Between Brochure / David Chipperfield Architects
Between Brochure holds some of the qualities of the winner. This entry has a problem of presentation that makes it somewhat difficult to see the strong architectural quality of the library interior. The library concept may seem to be a little conventional but has great potential. It has the potential to fulfill the competition’s environmental requirements.

Download full information of the project here.

Fourth Prize

Intermezzo / Snohetta
Intermezzo is different from the other award winners in that the library spans most of the A8 and A9 plots. Streets and passageways thus become tunnels. The quality that raises this entry to an award winning position is the large library hall clad with evergreen plants. Environmentally, this project has the potential to fulfill the requirements of the program.

Download full information of the project here.

Cite: Jordana, Sebastian. "Munch Museum and Deichman Library in Oslo competition results" 27 Mar 2009. ArchDaily. Accessed 26 May 2015. <>
  • Tom

    This is a sad day for architecture in Oslo, My office (which is in Oslo) was horrified when we saw what they suggested to do for the munch. This should go in the bin! It’s not going to improve the area at all.

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  • Opium

    I’m sorry for you Tom and for Oslo…Plain boring speculative architecture. Abalos e herreros are not only doing meaningless architecture now they got the point where they copy themselves…the glass tower is just a copy of an hotel or office building they constructed a few years ago in Spain.

  • jlbr

    Agreed, this looks more like a hotel.
    When I looked at it I just thought of the paintings of Edvard Munch and this building just does not correspond or remind me or even slightly makes me think of his work. I dont mean it should be a gloomy and dark building, but I just dont think of this as a museum or as representative of Munch’s work.

  • Goyo

    these arent museums, they all look like office blocks

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  • Troy Lemieur

    Looks like the command bridge on an air craft carrier. Second Prize looks a lot more interesting.

  • Rocket Valentino

    This is outrageous! ‘Lambda’ and ‘Girls on the Bridge’ were some of the worst projects in the competition. The jury (including the principal at The Oslo School of Architecture (!!!)) must have been drunk or corrupt.

  • Rocket Valentino

    By the way, check out the ‘woermann’ project by Herreros here on their homepage.
    Apartment building at the Canary Islands, a museum for Munch in the far north – same shit?
    SHAME ON YOU, HERREROS! But the jury deserves much worse. This is shocking.

  • Oslo

    Yin Yang is, in my opinion, the best of the entries. It looks like a museum, it interconnects with the urban landscape as well as the surrounding nature and it has certainly the most interresting and flexible organization of exhibition space.
    I remember just walking past “lambda” making a comment that it is just another fully glazed office building.

  • john

    lol…get the f… atta here…this is ridiculous!

  • Adrià

    I’m sure budget has had a very important role in deciding the winners. Curiously, Herreros’ entry seems to be one of the less expensive to build.

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  • Alex

    I am deeply concerned what passes for public architecture – is Oslo competing with Beijing?

    Throw-away gimicks, all too superficial – a quick cut and paste with computer graphics.

    If the architecture is of such low quality, the jury should say so and recall the competition for these important public buildings in a year or two. If the jury is of such low quality, they should be replaced.

  • Fia Andersson

    …do you guys work for REX? i know that you might have predispositions, but this disdain for a building is pretty obvious that is not coming from, lets say, an honest view… from my part both the herreros and rx proposal have merit, but i think the jury was thinking more of context, of the environment of the times, both natural and economic… and frankly, the rex mutation of the Neue National Gallerie and the Met in NYC is a little too nostaligic posmo for my taste. The Herreros might at glance seem sober, and g-forbid not iconic, but if you look closer i think it is a clearly defined work, with great elegance; this is what I saw at the exhibition…

  • NM

    the herreros project is the most intriguing one. why should a museum look like a sculpture, or a modernist temple? why not a transparent (yes) machine, a critically reworked and reinterpreted version of that most generic of modernist buildings: the skyscraper. if anyone cares to look up what herreros’ architecture stands for in terms of ideas, you’ll see that the point is not originality of form, but the investigation of it within the anatomy of city. the project has an internal organisation that’s quite innovative too, mixing up working and exhibiting spaces. planning-wise, the project opens up for lots of open public space, thus counterbalancing in both shape and surroundings, the intransparency, the disinterest and the faux-democracy of the opera and its facade-roof.

  • Rocket Valentino

    NM, you ask why a museum should look like a sculpture (a just question, indeed), and why it shouldn’t look like a skyscraper. Well, why should it look like a skyscraper? That is not clear to me. You don’t want it to look like a “modernist temple”, but “the most generic of modernist buildings: the skyscraper” is ok? How what why?

    I do believe that you are correct in the fact that “the point is not originality of form”, considering the fact that the shape is almost identical to their apartment block “Woerman” at Gran Canaria. They just added some wavey glass they saw on their study trip to Porto. Only problem is that they put it on the wrong way, so that it will collect dirt and sea salt nicely.

    The fact that it counterbalances its surroundings in shape and intransparancy is bullshit. It is a continuation of the BARCODE plan north of the plot, which consists of more of these glass towers that require enormous amounts of energy to keep warm in winter and cool in summer. However, Herreros mangaged to place the other buildings of their project PERPENDICULAR to the BARCODE line and their own museum, creating a wall between the city and the sea (they seem very consistent in demonstrating that they haven’t understood the context at all).

    Yes, it does free a lot of area. I think that’s the reason they won. Now the owners of the plot (HAV eiendom) have lots of square meters to sell out for further development. Yey.

    Fia: You have no right assuming that people are dishonest merely because they don’t like this building.

    Jesus, this building brings out the worst in me! I shall have to finish with something positive, and want to praise Ghilardi+Hellsten for their MSK project. Nice work! I also think the winner of the Deichmann Library will turn out very nice.

  • NM

    Rocket Valentino – get over the petty local agenda, and try to perceive this with a fresh set of eyes. Skyscraper constitutes the point of departure for almost every herreros project, and just because it is tilted like the Woermann, it’s not even close to sharing any common features with it. Skyscraper is not a genre. It is a vessel. It does not only have a facade and a topography, but also a sectionality, a hierarchy, an ordered functionality that, if you care to take interest, speaks volumes on the way we live, function, and think. Reworking the generic form with the purpose of making this functionality not only implicit and instrumental but also explicit and performative, is a gesture highly deserving of a cultural building for the 21st century. So, to answer your question : yes, I endorse a building that proposes a museum as a machine – because arts and culture are parts of that big machine churning on. This is a truthful architecture, not a squeamish one. Rise up to it.

  • Rocket Valentino

    Get over the petty local agenda? What on earth is that supposed to mean? This is not Dubai or Beijing, – Oslo is not a playground for architects who intend merely to masturbate their own ego and see what that might result in. It is also not 1927, so yes, I expect architecture to be precisely LOCAL. That Herreros (almost) always start with the skyscraper, as you say (assuming that you are employed there, I trust you know) is just sad. I have nothing against the skyscraper as such, but if the arguments for this are “sectionality, hierarchy and ordered functionality” it seems clear that these people have a very limited imagination.

    “Skyscraper is not a genre. It is a vessel.” My God… I must applaud you, NM, you have an impressive way of using many words to say absolutely nothing.

    That being said, the museum as a machine is an intriguing and fascinating concept. But the link between the skyscraper, the machine and the truthfulness is simply non-existing. Throwing lots of empty words inbetween them does not help.

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  • NM

    Rocket Valentino, working out of some threatened little local office, or what? Get your brain in shape and learn to articulate something else than a 5yo’s frustration. Good luck.

  • Rocket Valentino

    Haha! Thank you for giving me exactly the response I was expecting. Comparing me with a 5 year old as a response to critique… You are such a cliché…

    I am not working at a threatened little, local office. I’m a student. Second year, if you care.
    I think you’ve just established who’s the 5 year old… Good luck to you too (I hope nobody ever questions your empty nonsense again).

  • NM

    You just benchmarked the bottom. There’s a bright future for you out there, kid.

  • Fia Andersson

    Wow, Rocket, second year student, the way you spoke about the jury earlier, well, you really sounded like a seasoned authority… i also wish you good luck, as I hope you can rethink how you should talk and personally attack architects (herreros and jury) considering you have a while to go to become one… about honesty, well, i am always a bit skeptical when i see these kinds of over-the-top aggressions that fall way short of being actual critiques, so, yes the comment was a bit cynical. First, if architects were censored for using techniques, visual, formal and mechanical, they used before, such as Herreros and his own Woermann Bld, then we would all be out of business… really, ask around. Second, in the end i think the conversation about the tower in relationship to the horizontal Opera is very interesting… i guess you have to decide, in this case, whether the Opera is complimented by this urban form or challenged… i sense that Herreros felt that his small 6 or 8 story (not sure, but it seems) tower indeed followed the profile of the Opera´s ramps and thus raised a shape that would compliment and contrast a balance in the landscape… in my view and i suspect the jury´s, Rex´s comes into the water a bit too severely becoming a bit self-referential by canceling the Opera’s own similar, horizontal form… and in the end the language of this watered down brutalism via some half-measured postmodernism is hardly experimental as a museum space… i mean i could say, sounds more like good’ol Phillip Johnson, cocaine-90´s to me, but then i would sound more like you;)… but kidding aside, i do like some aspects of Rex´s playful programmatic ideas in relationship to challenging the autonomy of art, but in the end it completely felt short in the fiscal, mechanical and environmental realities of what the jury and the city are looking for, really, i mean look at their sections… and for that i believe the jury had a contemporary expectation of what the project should be. the bonfire of flagrant, uninformed, egotrips is over, the actuality of fabricating a building, buildings that are in par with the fiscal and environmental interest of a community is prescient and with certainty you will see more of it. So, Rocket, it seems like we all hope that you continue to partake in the public dialogue, as we also hope you have a bit more patience to learn more about the not-so-obvious intricacies of making a building, before you say something as silly as – “By the way, check out the ‘woermann’ project by Herreros here on their homepage. Apartment building at the Canary Islands, a museum for Munch in the far north – same shit? SHAME ON YOU, HERREROS! But the jury deserves much worse. This is shocking.”

  • Fia Andersson

    and… “This is outrageous! ‘Lambda’ and ‘Girls on the Bridge’ were some of the worst projects in the competition. The jury (including the principal at The Oslo School of Architecture (!!!)) must have been drunk or corrupt.”

  • Kaffilaura

    A well placed pinch of criticism is adequate for this proposal, even if its from a second year student.

  • Rocket Valentino

    I am sorry to disappoint you, Fia Andersson, but I will not hold back my frustration regarding grotesque architecture intruding my life in my own city. Neither now nor later in my career. The toes of the architect are so important to how we live our lives, how we move and feel, that they must more than any other toes be challenged by being stepped on over and over again. How else will we as architects evolve? When I see something that I think is totally shit, I will say so. Architects must be able to cope with that (also the prinicipal of my school, who was in the jury). I can not tame my overwhelming enthusiasm for architecture, and have no intention of stepping carefully simply because somebody finds it ‘silly’ (especially not in blogs such as this).

    I don’t understand why you keep comparing it to the Rex proposal, and suggesting that any of the commentators work there – Rex has been mentioned once (by ‘Oslo’). I totally agree in most of your critique against Yin Yang, such as ‘the Rex mutation of the Neue National Gallerie and the Met in NYC is a little too nostaligic post-mo for my taste’, and ‘i do like some aspects of Rex’s playful programmatic ideas in relationship to challenging the autonomy of art, but in the end it completely fell short in the fiscal, mechanical and environmental realities of what the jury and the city are looking for, really, i mean look at their sections…’. Yes, yes and oh yes.

    Thank you, Kaffilaura.

  • Mestiq

    Addition to previous comment: Maybe the word “shit” is a bit strong, and I apologize to Herreros or any possible fan of the project, if there are any(?). But well, I didn’t find any other good way to describe it, it just felt short, simple and “to the point” to use this word to try to convey my opinion. Again, if anyone were offended, I apologize for that. But honestly, this project is strange and as I see it, not at all fitting for the location, or the intended use of the building/project.

    I honestly cannot “read” or understand it. Must be some kind of architects strange thinking that makes this project “good” in any way….. Sorry.

  • Mestiq

    Strange that the moderator allowed the follow-up post to my first comment, as it was in the first comment that all my main points were made. If the moderator doesn’t want to allow that initial comment, he might as well have deleted the follow-up comment as well. And now, you might just as well delete both this comment and the one above. I guess I should just give up commenting here at all.