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AART architects will design an extension of Oslo’s existing Viking Ship Museum and establish a larger Viking Age Museum. The museum extension will be located in Oslo’s Bygdøy peninsula in Norway, and will be commissioned by the Ministry of Education.
A competition was held to select a design for the expansion and transformation of Norway’s busiest and most famous museum. The winning proposal was chosen from among 110 other entries to create a landmark structure for preserving and sharing knowledge related to the Viking age.
The museum will house unique Viking age collections, along with some of the oldest and best preserved ships of the era. Recognised as one of the world’s 50 best museums by The Times, the new extension of the 1920’s-designed museum will maintain its status as an important cultural and historical museum worldwide.
Work on the extension will be carried out in phases, allowing the museum to function during the construction. The extension will be completed by 2022, two years after the planned start of construction in 2020.
Design of the Viking Age Museum
AART architects have proposed a ‘Naust’ or a boat-shape design for the new museum, featuring a bold circular structure.
Representing an extension of the existing Viking Ship building, the circle will blend aesthetically with the cross-shaped building. It will connect the northern and western parts of the current museum structure.
A new identity of the historic museum will be established by the compact design of the new building, which will use the Viking Ship museum as a central part of the entire complex. Continuity will be maintained by the new addition, which will offer new exhibition spaces and more open area by extending towards the countryside.
Entrance to the museum will be through the Viking Ship building, while the roof ridge of the extension will meet the gables of the museum’s wings. An inner courtyard will be formed by this convex and circular arrangement.
A fluid movement will be created by the design of the new building enabling activity through both the new and old parts of the museum. Stone and concrete will be used in the museum’s construction.
Facilities at the Viking Age Museum
The ship museum will stretch across 13,000m² with the new 9,300m² Viking Age museum. It will house areas for special exhibition and outdoor activities, as well as space for exhibition production and object processing.
Located in the new building will be cafe and restaurants with outdoor seating, auditoriums and retail outlets. Large areas will be available for holding gatherings and school activities, along with dedicated public spaces and locker rooms. The museum will also include modern and interactive communication methods.
The large inner courtyard can be used for hosting open-air exhibitions and will act as a hub for most of the activities and gatherings at the museum.
Other facilities available will include elevators, stairways, toilets, offices and secondary rooms.
Exhibition area of the new museum
The exhibition rooms within the new building will feature double elevation, resulting in two different levels to view the Viking ships. The ships can be viewed from multiple angles and at all sides, even from greater distances.
The spaciously designed exhibition rooms will enable large groups of visitors to enjoy the experience. The rooms include wide-step seating, which allows visitors to move down to the ship display level for closer observation.
The dual level of the exhibition space will also allow visitors to plan their visit according to their available time. For a more leisurely and in-depth experience, the visitors can move to the lower level and actively participate in the display, while the ships can also be viewed from the upper level from the open corridors.
Key players involved
The landscaping architect for the project will be SLA, while Jens Treider will be the heritage consultant. Statsbygg has been commissioned by the Norwegian Ministry of Education to overlook the development of the museum and collaborate with the architects.
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