Text description provided by the architects. Porsgrunn Maritime Museum and Exploratorium is situated in the Norwegian town of Porsgrunn, 100 km south west of Oslo. The new museum will tell the story of the town’s dock yard industry and its maritime history, which has employed thousands of people from the whole region. In addition, the attractive location of the museum right on the riverside opens up an important process for the city concerning the future extensive urban renewal of the entire Porsgrunn Harbor area.
”Porsgrunn is an industrial town, which is reflected clearly in the museum’s surrounding context. It consists of small to medium sized industries in the shape of small characteristic wooden buildings. It was important to create a museum with a high level of sensitivity towards these surroundings, yet at the same time for the new Maritime Museum and Exploratorium to stand out as a spectacular contemporary building and become a landmark of Porsgrunn”, Lars Bendrup explains, Owner of TRANSFORM, and continues: “Our general vision was to turn a backside into a frontside. With the new museum the town will now orientate itself towards the beautiful river, which for much too long has been Porsgrunn’s industrial backside”.
New meets old
The new Maritime Museum and Exploratorium is composed of eleven smaller square volumes, together amounting to almost 2,000 m2. Each volume has a different roof slant that assembled make up a varied roof structure. A characteristic aluminum facade, locally produced in Porsgrunn, not only holds the dynamic building structure together, but at the same time it reflects light and colors from the surrounding Norwegian mountain landscape.
Dan Stubbergaard, Founder and Creative Director of COBE, elaborates: ”It is a sensitive art adding new to old in a historic area. First of all we wanted to understand the area’s characteristics and then we wanted to strengthen it but at the same time create something new and contrasting. The abrupt building structure of downscaled building volumes and the expressive roof profile are for example clear references to the area’s historic small wooden buildings, which all have their own particular roof profiles. This interpretation of the area’s pitched roofs and small wooden building entities sets the final frame for a unique and characteristic contemporary building”. He continues: “The goal was to create a house that not only understands and shows consideration for its surroundings, but also contributes with something radically new and different”.
Porsgrunn on the architectural map
The new Maritime Museum and Exploratorium has already in November 2013 – before its opening - received Porsgrunn Municipality’s building practice prize 2013 (“Byggeskikkpris”). The committee among other things emphasized the expressive form of the house, the aluminium facade, and an obvious readable logic of the building.
”The building is so fine that it puts Porsgrunn on the architectural map”, the foreman of the jury said at the award ceremony.
TRANSFORM and COBE have on other occasions collaborated on a range of large scale projects in Denmark and abroad, and the new Maritime Museum and Exploratorium only adds to the list of cultural buildings designed by the two architectural firms. The two firms are also behind the award winning Culture House and Library in Copenhagen’s North-West area, built in 2011.