Danish architect duo COBE and Transform unveiled their finished design for the Porsgrunn Maritime Museum and Exploratorium. The modern building set on the banks of the industrialized area along Porsgrunn River stands out for its wide, jagged edges and aluminum facade. Although at first glance the avant garde design may seem at contrast with its industrial backdrop, it is meant to pay homage to the town's historic dock yard and maritime industry. The local maritime sector has been essential to the town's economic survival by employing thousands of people from the region for years, a role celebrated by this striking new project.
Certainly more contemporary than its surroundings, the new 2,000 square meter maritime museum curiously manages to both contrast and merge with the industrial landscape that surrounds it. While the zigzag outline of the reflective building is unique to the area in terms of style and materials, the architects intentionally designed the building’s odd dimensions to blend in with the distinct shapes and sizes of the small wooden residences and warehouses in the area. The design is comprised of eleven individual blocks with jagged asymmetric roofs jutting in different directions and elevations to reflect the character of those neighboring buildings.
“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,” said COBE founder and director Dan Stubbergaard. “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.”
The strong character of the Porsgrunn museum is further enhanced by the shiny aluminium scales that cover the walls and the roofs, picking up reflections from the adjacent Porsgrunn River. The museum’s location will also serve as a starting point for the city’s extensive urban renewal plan that will transform the entire Porsgrunn Harbour area.
In addition to representing the local heritage, the Porsgrunn Museum is already well on its way to becoming a proud architectural landmark. Before its recent opening, the design received the Porsgrunn Municipality’s Building Practice Prize 2013 (“Byggeskikkpris.”) The judging committee emphasized the “expressive form of the house, the aluminium facade, and an obvious readable logic of the building.”
Photos by Adam Mørk og Rasmus Hjortshøj