Sverre Fehn - Norway
National Museum of Architecture
Bankplassen 3, Oslo
2003 - 2008


The Norwegian National Museum of Architecture in Oslo is a branch of the National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design. This institution took over the oldest premises of the Norwegian Central Bank in downtown Oslo, designed by Christian Gorsch. The architect Sverre Fehn was responsible for both the refurbishment of the old building, which was completed in 1830 and is considered to be one of Norway's first monumental buildings in the Empire (Regency) style, as well as the design of the new exhibition pavilion. The intervention on the historic premises was undertaken with the aim, to recreate the original character of the building and accentuating the interaction of old and new elements and spaces. As a consequnece all undesirable additions of a more recent date have been removed in order to restore and adapt the original spatial dimensions and characteristics (at least partly). The elevations of the main building have been restored to their original appearance. Access to the museum is made through the original building. Adjacent to the main entrance are to be found the general public spaces, such as the lobby with receptions, café, bookshop and exhibition rooms. To the south is an acces to the adjacent park, enabling outdoor catering during the summer months. The new exhibition pavilion is based on the idea of an introverted space, layed out on a square ground plan. This square is structured by four masive pillars, bearing a delicate shell-shaped roof of concrete. The façades are made almost exclusively of glass, and constitute a thin layer between outdoor and indoor areas. The glass pavilion is surrounded by external in-situ concrete walls, extending the sense of the space and giving the exhibitions a calm backdrop. At the same time, the relationship between extensive glazings and the concrete walls accentuates the experience of introversion and extroversion. The experience of the space is strongly influenced by the daylight and the view of the sky and the surrounding environment. A restrained palette of materials was employed in the design of this project, using mainly tiles, white pine, lime plaster, while oak, glass, marble and stainless steel where used for new building elements and fittings. The new pavilion is used for the temporary exhibitions, while the permanent collection of the museum is housed in the former repository building. On the first floor of the old building are the library, the museum's administration and assembly rooms, while the two top floors of the repository building are occupied by the archives for photography and drawing collections together with the registration.