The Munch Museum and The Stenersen Museum Collections | Herreros Arquitectos

• April 16, 2009

infografic view of tower from museum plaza The Munch Museum and The Stenersen Museum Collections | Herreros Arquitectos

Spanish architect  Herreros has been awarded First Prize of the competition for the Munch Area in Oslo, Norway. The design was inspired by Edvard Munch’s statement

I am more interested in the line, its rise and fall, than in color.

western birds eye view of site model The Munch Museum and The Stenersen Museum Collections | Herreros Arquitectos

+ Text below provided by architect, Herreros Arquitectos



The competition for the Munch Area in the Bjorvika neighborhood involves an opportunity to develop a complete city fragment in an enclave soon due to become essential for Oslo’s life and image. The recently finished Opera house, the BarCode complex under construction, the projected Library and the Munch Museum and the 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.

munchmuseum 11 550x175 The Munch Museum and The Stenersen Museum Collections | Herreros Arquitectos

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.

In this regard, we believe that our aim is for an action that shapes the city in terms of its social geography, urban multi-functionality and environmental sensitivity, that, together with a reflection on its density and diversity, we can together forge cogent growth for Oslo. We celebrate the disposition shown for the modeling of a compact city, on a human scale, in which all the pieces weave a series of relationships that serve to contradict the usual tendency of working on schemes of isolated campus-type gestures.

We interpret the opportunity offered by the central piece of the proposal, the Munch Museum, to develop a contemporary museum concept, one which does not only refer to art custody and exhibition, but which also develops an urban role of responsibility as a cohesive element of public projection for the community it serves.

urban planning, context and public space

museum site plan The Munch Museum and The Stenersen Museum Collections | Herreros Arquitectos

Site Plan courtesy Herreros Arquitectos


The focus of this urban project is centered on the necessary relationship between the desired areas and the existing city in the unique context configured by the fjord, coastlines and geographical features that condition it. We are not proposing a site with isolated phenomena. We propose a dynamic, fruitful conversation with the surroundings, a proposal that selects the appropriate uses, scales and densities that in turn articulate the spatial forms of occupation, the dimensions and treatment of the public space and its sustained growth towards the future.

The first guideline of our proposal is a sequence of connected public spaces that are strongly characterized and sufficiently large to formulate a dialogue between the scales of the architectonic features of the area, thus integrating them into a general, readable system. Secondly, we will detail the built programs to corroborate with the suggested locations of the Master Plan: we locate the museum in the B-11 lot and then the housing programme in lots B-4 and B-5, maintaining a steadfast suggestion to stagger the heights of the buildings towards the sea. For the residential area we have chosen an organization of blocks which are parallel to the city and slightly displaced with each other in order to ensure continuity of views and visual richness of urban perspectives which are rounded off in a square resolving the transition on through to the Museum. The Museum is developed with slight verticality, choosing a posture which shows a double attention towards the fjord and towards the city, standing respectfully to the east of the opera house, thus extending and completing its silhouette. With these decisions we confidently intend to work on the visibility and perception of the set of buildings, from the city, to the fjord, to the high areas from which the history of Oslo will be understood in one coherent image.

The ground plan takes on great importance in our project and we imagine the set of the public space + ground floors of the building as a plan with great dynamism and leisure, commercial and productive activity, designed in detail and intensely “naturalized” and accessible, which attracts a flow of users which is not limited to residents and tourists. This will be the base for the new central nature that we want to stamp on Bjorvika and which explains our efforts in rounding off the system of public spaces generated with a unique action in the islands and the beach which open onto the fjord, and providing these privileged places with landscaped and programmed attractions so as to ensure that they are used intensively by the public. It is worth saying now in advance that we leave the small island on the south of the Museum free, which may become a complementary enclave to the museum, and the Snelda island for which we propose a sporting and hedonistic program related to contact with the sun, the wind and water understood as urban water park or a natural park. In the peninsula adjacent to the opera, we maintain the plan of locating a beach, a tourist port and bus stop for the buses which will serve the museum, the port and the water park.

The series of attractions is completed with the location, still tentative, of the cable car which may strengthen the nature of the area as a setting for walks, shopping and free time with an array of cafes and terraces combined with workspaces. In any case, we have tried to respect the rules and instructions of the bases, opting for the flexibility which they favor in certain cases, especially when referring to the heights, built areas and densities and programs. However, we must insist on the open nature of a proposal which is simply a diagram of possibilities and which will easily accept corrections and comments from the bodies involved in its development.

organisation of public space: the fjordside walk

The Seven Commons and the Harbour Promenade, the meeting of the city with the water and the obsession of making all the edge accessible, indicate a commitment with a high collective content for this new city centre. Our 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. A careful design on the water edge will emphasise the unique qualities of this very special place in the world.

While waiting to know more about the presence of archaeological remains which may influence the proposed treatment, we have tried to design the fjordside promenade in a way that uses the natural assets of Oslo and makes Björvika into an experience of spaces that is unique to this particular landscape setting.

This sequence of spaces can be defined as:
1. The Leisure Island
2. The Beach Area
3. The Canal Walk
4. The Museum Island
5. The Munch Plaza
6. The Library Plaza
7. The Bispekaia Market Square
8. The Housing Courtyards


The Leisure Island is a new generation public space. On the one hand, it is a place for active public life, and on the other hand a peaceful setting for individual silence, contact with nature and body fitness. Collectivity and isolation come together in this central place on the edge of the city. It is also the largest public space on the waterfront, located strategically with views on the fjord and with the Opera house to the north. The Leisure Island is designed to be a destination in itself, an urban park that attracts people from all over the city. The Leisure Island is conceived as an urban water park with swimming pools with water heated by geothermal energy, solariums and other natural activities. It is an enclave with a high hedonistic content with shaded areas for rest and social life and some pavilions with a café, dressing rooms and silent space. Towards the south the Leisure Island has a wind screening wall of wood, which opens up in the middle part, creating a framed view towards the fjord. A small grove of trees gives structure to the island—Sorbus aria, a tree species that can endure hard winds and salty ocean spray.


The silent and peaceful idea for the Leisure Island contrasts with the bustle and activity of the Beach Area, understood as a sequence of terraces that lead down to the water. It goes from stone paving on the top, more socially inviting wooden terraces for sun worshippers below and ends at the yet softer sandy beach. A pier with a rounded endpoint permits disabled people to get to the lower levels on ramps and also creates a sheltering wall to the south, as well as a viewing point at the end, from where the sunset can be enjoyed. Because of their size, accessibility and features, both the Leisure Island and the Beach Area could host concerts and open-air events during the summer.


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, we respect the planned geometric line treating the public space as an extended plaza lined with trees in an informal way and which may be used for strolling, relaxing and as an esplanade for rowing. The Canal walk leads up to the main entrance of the museum and also continues to the Museum Island. The Canal Walk is lined with a low wooden wall for seating, interrupted by a rhythm of small platforms facing the canal and a series of small ornamental trees, Acer tatarica, a tree with a strong character and a beautiful autumn colour.


The Museum Island points as an index finger out towards the fjord. The direction is noticed already along the canal Walk in front of the main entrance to the museum. It could be totally public or understood as an element of the Museum with restricted access. Approaching the island, there is a choice between moving to the Orangerie with its collection of Citrus trees and displayed objects of art on the one hand, and moving up the ramp towards the elevated sculpture terrace on the other. The ramp is initiated with a wooden wall which screens off the view to the north during the walk upwards, again just to display the view in all its magnificence once up on the elevated sculpture terrace. The wooden wall also acts as a climate shelter, making the lower terrace with its sunken herbaceous garden into a more intimate experience of scents and colour. This terrace can also be used as a reception area for the museum at openings. The terrace ends with the prow, where the visitor meets the sensation of being in solitude with the fjord landscape, almost floating between the water and the sky.


The Munch Plaza is designed as a grove of trees, announcing the museum entrance area from the distance in all directions along the harbour promenade. The trees are Gleditsia Triacanthos “Skyrocket”, a hardy enough tree with a semi-transparent canopy that filters the light softly to the ground. The grove acts as an intermediating zone between the museum in the south and the housing in the north. The grove is also an assembly point for visitors before moving on to the main entrance, and also provides shaded rest areas, defining the edge of the museum complex. If the Cable Car is finally built, it could start from this square and thus complete its programme of Activities.


The Library Plaza contains the upper part of the canal and has wide seating stairs in a playful geometry on both sides, connecting down to the water. The water is treated artistically to make it a showpiece, maybe with a maelstrom/ whirlpool effect. On the upper level on both sides are groves of trees with park sofas under the canopies. The groves are Querqus Palustris on the western side (autumn colour, regular branch structure) and Fraxinus Excelsior “Westhofs Glorie” to the east (exotic leaf, autumn colour).


The Bispekaia Market Square is more of a community plaza and recreational space for the locals. The southern side has an open quay character with water from the fjord coming in, creating an open basin. The basin is lined with shading trees and seating. The northern part is livelier and has a central gravel surface with space for market stands of varying kinds. In the evenings, boule players and other urban social entertainment take place here. In the winter time, the gravel surface is made into an ice skating rink.


These are basically private spaces for the housing. The Housing Courtyards are elevated over the streetscape, creating more private, secluded courtyards that contain seating areas and smaller playground features. The groves are of Sedum and some bushes which play with the presence of other plant treatments in the corridors, terraces and gaps proposed in the buildings as common areas.

traffic solutions and mobility. We suppose Dronning Eufemias as the main traffic artery and we propose a gradient of reduction in its intensity towards the south. In fact, we maintain the idea of restricting the traffic in Operagata and from there we only launch the service circulations necessary for the Museum and the tourist buses. As a whole, the project insists on the predominance of the pedestrianized and cyclist city with a significant presence of public transport which makes this possible. To make it even more visible, we reserve practically all the available ground for people, minimizing the circulation areas and taking advantage of the necessary accessibility to the museum as an access road to the car parks for the housing, which are always underground or semi-underground, and the access road for arrival of the tourist buses to the car park as a maintenance system and drop-off for the installations located on the islands.

The continuity of the pedestrianized space is ensured by the respect and emphasis placed on materializing the Harbour Promenade and the search for fluidity in the connection between Bjorvika and Bispevika. We have provisionally dropped the link between Paulsenkaia and Sorenga as it seems redundant and costly and can always be carried out between the Museum Island and the coast of Bispevika if considered necessary.

The Cable Car is not understood as a means of mobility in itself but it can be an important factor for the mobility of tourists, which will eliminate vehicles from the roads which go up the hills or down to the museum and the ferry port and will increase the commercial bustle in the plazas. A generic location is offered for the Munch Plaza which may be nuanced in the future if the plan to build it is still

the munch museum and stenersen museum collections

view of museum tower from opera harbor 550x175 The Munch Museum and The Stenersen Museum Collections | Herreros Arquitectos


The future complex formed by the Munch Museum MM 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 is conceived as an institution which is open to the city and highly visible, which must be visited many times in a lifetime because of its dynamic programs but also because of its power as a place of concentration, walks and daily relaxation in its terraces and cafes or even because of its shops.

view of waterfront site from across the harbor 550x175 The Munch Museum and The Stenersen Museum Collections | Herreros Arquitectos


The building is located “on the side” at the end of the Pauselkia peninsula, avoiding the cones of perception which ensure views over the fort from the surrounding mountains. With this position we aim to intensify the tension between the fjord and solid ground, but also to avoid the arrogant gesture of placing it frontally, in order to move respectfully to one side, letting the space and view flow towards the sea. As can be seen, especially in the model, its dimensions express in an almost anthropomorphic manner its respect towards the historical city and its shared space with the Opera house, understanding that if the fjord is a beautiful landscape, where it wants to look on to is the coastline, where it meets the shore and where the most valuable exchanges occur for the city’s life. Its gesture of slightly inclining its top (without affecting the functionality of the rooms) proudly emphasizes the value of the public ground generated at its feet. This “figurative” condition is also an approach to Eduard Munch’s work and its exuberant language in which naturalism and abstraction find a unique expression for the times of transition during which he lived.

water roof garden level plan 0001 The Munch Museum and The Stenersen Museum Collections | Herreros Arquitectos

Water Roof Garden Level Plan courtesy Herreros Arquitectos


Once the position and posture are chosen, the next decision consists of very clearly separating two independent pieces which divide the programme into “dynamic” (spaces of free access, public uses and circulations) and “static” (the museum itself).

west elevation The Munch Museum and The Stenersen Museum Collections | Herreros Arquitectos

West Elevation courtesy Herreros Arquitectos

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 covered plaza. This houses the reception, main restaurant, event hall, cinema, spaces for the sponsors, shops and the exhibition about the history of the artist Munch. Forming a right angle with the lobby, a vertical screen is laid out which accompanies the movement of people resolving accessibility to the rooms and other sections through platforms which also function as distributors, rest areas, viewpoints and small cafes. The distributor on the first floor also has a cafeteria in parallel with the arts deposit (which could remain partially on view for the public) which extends in a deck over the over the plinth cover surrounded by a sheet of sea water which will never freeze as it is part of the building’s energy system. Lobby and circulations involve a kinetic experience both for the users and for the image of the building through the transparencies of its West facade with its enigmatic materials.

The “static” space is made up of a succession of exhibition rooms and operational sections of the museum. The packet of plants with different heights is in turn divided by a vertical core which organises the whole in two room sizes (650m2 and 325m2) of maximum neutrality without it being necessary now to differentiate those dedicated to permanent or to temporary exhibitions. Among these, physical spaces for the public are reserved which house the sections for restaurants, management, educational programme and library. The use of this room is reserved for the definitive programming but it could be used for the largest works in the collection, a space reserved for special temporary exhibitions etc. All the rooms have a versatile and universal lighting system as well as different services (data network, water, strength…) in order to be able to accept all exhibition formats and resources.

The general circulations system which runs along the West facade is completed with the transversal service and maintenance core, whose main piece is the large format tall lift for works of art (5x4x5m useful). All the floors have alternative emergency exits, installations room and public toilets. The lower floors of the museum house the technical services, differentiated delivery for art and services, car park, installations, maintenance workshops, archives, offices for staff etc. All of this is resolved with the maximum operational level and rationality separating the works of art from the ground as indicated in the competition requirements.

In general, we consider the programme fulfilled and, more importantly, the special system activated for the project, according to which, other uses, heights of the rooms or locations of complementary services can be put forward without affecting the project’s essence.

munchmuseum 6 The Munch Museum and The Stenersen Museum Collections | Herreros Arquitectos

Section courtesy Herreros Arquitectos


The two parts into which the building is divided are resolved with differentiated structures: concrete for the “static” program of the museum, steel for the “dynamic” program of the public areas. The museum is built as a vertical concrete box of 16 m of free light hermetically sealed except when the program requires opening of spaces. It is built with four 40 cm thick screens which form a prism whose long sides require buttresses (60x30cm) every 6m which embrace lightly post-tensioned flagstones. The gap resulting from leveling up the buttresses in order to have exhibition rooms with continuous walls generates an installations chamber which is highly versatile and which runs along the building and ensures exhaustive control of the networks in each room. The transversal core collaborates in the general inertia of the structure in the wind direction. The necessary gaps for the museum’s operation, especially in the anterior screen are resolved without problems by substituting the buttresses for pillars of up to 100x30cm and bracing the edges with virtual beams.

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 platforms are resolved with a light framework supported on beams every 3 m which are supported on the concrete screen without transmitting momentum and on the substructure of the transparent closing. In the lobby, two lines of supports receive metallic beams supported on the screen and ending with a projection in the main façade.

munchmuseum 7 550x265 The Munch Museum and The Stenersen Museum Collections | Herreros Arquitectos

Detail courtesy Herreros Arquitectos


As a whole, the museum aims to be a construction event based on establishing few rules and scarce materials which resolve all possible situations. Once the concrete work has finished, the rest of the work will be dry, of great precision and with a clear purpose to renounce any superfluous element. Plasterboard walls, easily substitutable continuous floors, subdivisions of high quality partitions for the complementary programs, exposed ceilings, installations with minimum presence etc. form a system of compatible equations in which space prevails over the construction and environmental quality over the material.

munchmuseum 5 The Munch Museum and The Stenersen Museum Collections | Herreros Arquitectos

Elevation courtesy Herreros Arquitectos


The façades surrounding the building have the same geometry but two very different types. The basic plastic resource is an external protection based on an undulating translucent surface with three different wave passes which aim for an enigmatic and evanescent expression of volume stimulated by the variations in natural light, clouds and weather features in general as well as the building’s own artificial light. In the concrete Museum, its vibrant surface is built in methacrylate and acts as the protection of the projected insulation which eliminates thermal bridges. In the lobby and circulations screen, it is built in frosted glass and behaves like the outer sheet of a double facade which offers a flat curtain wall on the inside with large size glass pieces, and between them the necessary steel structure. In order to deliver this intrinsic aspect of our proposal, we have consulted and will continue to develop both the technical and performative aspects of the façade systems with the most competent consultants in the field of climate, material and structural optimization.


All museums must pay careful attention to the lighting of their rooms, and this one will not be an exception. However, it is not appropriate now to speak about something which will be a reason for deep reflection. Nevertheless, we do want to highlight the lighting in the building itself as a high percentage of the time it will be perceived in the darkness with all the nuances that this has for the city of Oslo. The buildings presence at the entrance of the fjord, its capacity to become a signal and beacon for the city, the lighting possibilities of its translucent facade, of the water sheet or the circulations system as a succession of vantage points must be fully exploited.

energy and environment.

sustainability strategy

The proposal as a whole is very notably involved with energy and environmental sensitivity issues. The detailed explanation of the operation of the Museum installations and its extension to the rest of the uses has been made clear. This is the moment to underscore our firm position that these housing facilities, inasmuch as every other proposed building, not least Lambda’s public spaces must adhere to the sustainable criteria hereby proposed, beginning with the very reduction of cost as first preemptive measure.

mechanical systems


The installations as a whole are conceived as being very involved with the structure without this meaning a mortgage for either of them. The perforations of the flagstones where they meet the concrete screen on the east façade make it possible to draw vertical lines of water, air, sanitation and electricity for their subsequent distribution through the recesses of the flagstones compatible with post-tensed cables. The west screen houses the returns of the systems which are connected to vertical conduits in the front of the building to be expelled outside avoiding chimney-effect problems. The metal frameworks of the lobbies make it possible to carry installation trays suspended by their lower side, thus facilitating extremely simple strength and accessible illumination. The general installations are divided between the basement -1 (geothermal energy plant and water pumps), the local ones next to the delivery (electrical panels and generators) and the upper local ones which absorb the buildings inclination (water-air exchange plant).


The heating and cooling system is the great technical issue for the museum as we aimed to apply the TABS (Thermal Active Building System) principles, also known as CCTC (Concrete Core Temperature Control), which is based on activating the building elements as energy agents. The strategy is essential for reaching minimum energy consumption standards as required in the competition bases and we consider it one of the project’s strengths. To achieve this, the framework flagstones will have a series of embedded conduits which push treated air at slow speed in combination with the transformation of the flagstone itself into a radiator by means of a series of hot/cold water reticuled polypropylene pipes depending on the season of the year. The route of the water (easy to heat and cool) functions as the main system while the air is understood as a support. The first calculations demonstrate that the system barely requires air conditioning, and therefore can be described as a building whose temperature is controlled by water. The circulation space uses the same system of embedded water conduits in the inner concrete screen.

In summer we will activate a hydraulic free cooling system which directly cools the building’s conditioning water with seawater (only placing between them the corresponding heat exchanges, bridging the heat pumps). The air that which is discharged in the exhibition areas leaves them through the gaps made in the inner separation screens with the floor lobbies. This (return) air is collected in two methacrylate conduits which run vertical through the front of the building until they reach the exchange plants where they transfer heat to the incoming air before being discharged outside.

For the offices, event halls etc, we propose a variable flow “all air” conditioning system using Treatment Units with variable speed fans and flow regulation boxes in the conduits. A unique element of the system is the pool of seawater over the lobby, which cannot freeze as the water is heated with geothermal energy (immediate and renewable), thus avoiding the accumulation of snow with the consequent insulation value. The difference in temperature between the heated water and the air will produce strong evaporation whose “mist” effects will intentionally accompany the building during the coldest days of the year.

In principle, the existing district cooling and heating plant supplies cold or hot water depending on the case which may be circulated through the conduit system in the flagstones and inner concrete screen with minimum treatment, while a water-air exchange plant produces the support air that we may need. However, we want to propose something which is more ambitious in this regard referring to environmental factors and the use of renewable energies.


The mass use of water as a temperature controlling element in the building is based on the elimination of air conditioning as far as possible, substituting it for an element which is easily treated, subject to work at low temperature and with a minimum waste of energy. The idea of heating water in the lobby cover with geothermal energy leads us to propose zero consumption for all the heating and cooling of the building, taking all the energy necessary from a geothermal heat pump plant condensing in the sea water below the frozen layer or by means of pipes set in the subsoil. The system seems conceptually interesting to us and would make the museum a model example in the use of renewable energies worldwide.

The three essential elements: the water network in the flagstones, the temperature controlled pool in the lobby cover and the geothermal energy plant could be the reason for discussion or lack of confidence. In this case, the system could use air massively and the cover will be treated with a plant blanket based on sedum. Although the design of the museum will support both changes without traumas, we dare to defend the technical beauty of the proposed solutions and to back them up with built examples.

Other measures to address the building’s environmental content in more detail refer to the efficiency related with electricity consumption (especially the lighting), water consumption and its recycling in toilets and cleaning, the use of local materials, with a low level of the embodied energy, recycled as far as possible or easy to recycle in the future, waste treatment, both of water and of rubbish and the search for complete self-sufficiency cycles as far as possible.

Facades, concrete, paving and interior subdivisions will be subject to specific research in this regard. We voluntarily reject the typical family of finishes and varnishes which emit CO2 and which are so costly to eliminate from the materials if renewal or substitution is required. The future life and maintenance of the museum are equally essential factors of the environmental approach programs from the project.

The technical literature and drawings prepared by the corresponding experts throw sufficient light on our effort to achieve an absolutely model example and to extend it to the rest of the project, as the housing and urban development, the swimming pools and the ice rink can participate in the same energy criteria as the museum. For every building and/or urban project, our strategy consists on the early analysis of the layout and the external influences on the proposed site to optimise the building form, orientation and building fabric. This environmental analysis has allowed us to undertake an initial review of opportunities and constraints, covering issues such as climate characteristics and ground conditions, sources of noise and pollution, wind resource and prevailing winds, Sun path/intensity and shading, potential renewable and resources and existing infrastructure capacity (energy, water, drainage, transport). The consumption of electrical power (especially public illumination infrastructure), water, the use of materials delineated for the museum, down to the specific method of paving and urban furnishing, will be subject to rigorous investigation, becoming featured elements of this proposal. We will guarantee the aforementioned by way of aggressively pursuing national research guidelines proposed by agencies such as SINTEF, maintaining a LEED Certificate as base requirement.


Energy and CO2 emissions:
The principles of our design strategy are focused on the reduction of the predicted CO2 emissions, which means reducing energy demand by applying energy efficient design criteria, supplying from renewable sources and utilising low carbon technologies, when feasible.

Water use:
The principles of our water strategy are based on reducing water demand and waste by meeting the demand efficiently and applying practical measures that include supplying collected rainwater or recycled grey water to flush WCs and/or irrigation and recycling black water (sewage effluent), that can be treated for toilet flushing and other non-potable uses

Adaptation to Climate Change:
Our design principles focus on the predicted temperature increases and its consequences on building design and thermal comfort to reduce heat island effects and to minimise impact on microclimate and human habitat.

The key factors to be considered in reducing risks from predicted increases in external temperature are the reduction of internal heat gains, the effective use of thermal mass, the design of an appropriate ventilation strategy and the efficient use of low energy strategies.

Health and Wellbeing
At the early design stages, the key issue with regard to Health and Wellbeing is the provision of an accessible and inclusive environment. Our commitment is to discharge all statutory health and safety obligations during the construction phase as well as before and after occupancy.

The design principles that have guided our work up to now can be summarised as follows:
a. Application of good practice in providing for the widest practical range of accessibility needs
b. Elimination or reduction of health risk factors
c. Provision of comfortable internal conditions (air quality, thermal comfort, etc.)

Local environment and community
The impact of the project on the local environment and community is strongly influenced by the construction and operation of the development. With regard to construction activity, we will work to reduce pollution and nuisances from construction activities by controlling soil erosion, waterway sedimentation and airborne dust generation.



is laid out in a scheme of open parallel blocks with all the housing in a north-south direction which maintains the density proposed by the master plan. With this approach, the blocks do not obstruct the views and free spaces between them which comprise a system of public, pedestrian regions which emphasize the site’s east-west permeability. In addition, all the housing facilities have good views, sunlight and cross ventilation.

The slabs are 10 m deep and make it possible to have different types of housing to be defined later on. A scheme or generic core is established which serves two houses on each level to subject it to different configurations on the floors according to the definitive program. Therefore, maintaining the fixed cores, we can offer large, medium and small housing, which are served by a system of galleries which run along the north facade. The elimination of some houses may create open spaces understood as terraces or viewpoints for use by all residents.

A system of plinths which receive one, two or three blocks generates a family of public, semi-public and private spaces which constitute the commercial businesses (restaurants, shops etc), workspaces (small offices, studios, workshops) and facilities (primary school, gym, care center, nursery school, etc.) we support the dynamic nature of the neighborhood. Some fragments of the plinth are raised in order to facilitate access to the semi-buried car parks for the housing, while their covers offer private terraces and gardens for the residents.

The ice rink, the market, the restaurant terraces and the esplanade along the canal, complete the activity setting that we want for this area which leads into the Museum plaza. Although it is unnecessary now to give information about structures, materials and configuration facades, we do want to point out that the set of housing, their building techniques and future maintenance participate in the technical and environmental strategies of the museum and the urbanization.

financially viable solutions


We would like to dedicate a paragraph to the commercial activity and public facilities as we understand that their capacity for generating added value is fundamental for the feasibility of the project. The base below the housing has already been described as intensely productive in economic terms but the restaurants and the museum shops and the beach and Leisure Ireland water park programs must not be forgotten in this regard. The Cable Car is an important generator of commercial activity and the ice rink and the market proposed in Stasjonsallmenningen will surely attract many people. Some facilities will be financed with public funds (care center, primary school) but others may be private and equally productive (Gym, supermarket, offices and studios…). Therefore, the project as a whole seems to offer sufficient business opportunities so as to ensure its viability.


The museum is a fundamental piece and it is not worth fragmenting its construction although it could be inaugurated with some of the rooms unfinished or with some facilities not yet equipped (for example the auditorium). The residential area may be developed in four stages in accordance with the units assigned to each base but also the bases may be done first and all the commercial activities started up, building the houses later at the necessary speed. The free urban spaces must be built in the first stage, especially those which can attract a lot of people such as the Market Square and the Ice Rink so as to make the opening and transformation of the city at this point more visible. However, the Beach Island, the Leisure Island and the Museum Island can wait for a healthier financial situation.

+ The jury’s verdict for “Lambda”:

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 emblematic in its simplicity and will be a light tower in the fjord introducing an amazing place for people enjoying the unique landscape of Oslo.

+ Project credits

Project: The Munch Area, The Munch Museum and The Stenersen Museum Collections
Location: Oslo, Norway
Client: HAV Eiendom AS, Oslo Kommune
Architecture: Herreros Arquitectos
Project Directors: Juan Herreros, Jens Richter y Paola Simone
Collaborators: Riccardo Robustini, Luís Berríos-Negrón, Carmen Antón, Verónica Meléndez, Ángela Ruiz, Joanna Socha, Paula Vega
General Consultant: IDOM International
Landscape Architect: Thorbjörn Andersson
Completion: 2013
Model Photographs: Federico López
Model: Jorge Queipo

+ All text and images courtesy Herreros Arquitectos

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Category: Architecture, Culture, Master Plan, Selected

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