The Norwegian city of Molde has just 25,000 inhabitants, but every July the biggest stars of jazz and about 100,000 jazz enthusiasts flock to the town’s world famous international jazz festival. In designing the city’s new cultural center, the challenge faced by 3XN was to create a building that was flexible and robust enough to provide a framework for cultural life on both scales.
“There must be room for celebration in this building, both inside, on top of it and around it. And it must be able to withstand being invaded by happy people throughout the year – year after year”, says Head of Competition and Partner of 3XN, Jan Ammundsen about the Danish architectural practice’s most recently completed project, ‘Plassen’.
Located in the city center and overlooking both the fjord and the mountains, the ‘Plassen’ cultural center is an obvious meeting point. With an optimal use of every square meter, 3XN has created a building that can function both when a hundred and 100,000 people gather for concerts, festivals or theater. The architectural solution is a structure where almost all surfaces and spaces have more than one function. Together with the building’s roof, an existing staircase next to the building constitute a total of three outdoor amphitheatres that collectively accommodate several thousand spectators. During the day the roof offers a café with outdoor seating, a recreational area with splendid views and exhibition space for the building’s gallery; while the staircase on the side of the building is an essential link between the city’s upper and lower districts.
“Plassen is a compact and chaste construction, but by giving the shape a number of breaches, we have created a diversity in its expression, which means that it is flexible and roomy, without seeming very big” explains Jan Ammundsen, who has emphasized that the building of nearly 6000 m2 and three floors should adapt to the relatively small properties located around it. The same bright granite is used on all exterior surfaces and gives the building a bright monochrome expression that in the evening is contrasted by a warm red light coming from the heart of the building – the concert hall – around which other features, such as a library, café, exhibition space and performance areas are distributed. The warm color scheme of the interior combined with the solid hardwood floors and plenty of natural light result in a friendly and informal environment, which together with the many entrances make the building seem inviting and accessible to all.
“It is a building that solves many challenges, and that gives us something we’ve missed for a long time” says the head of the jazz festival, Jan Ole Otnæs. “First, it makes it possible to offer audiences and artists a much better experience both in terms of actual concert halls, but also because of the outdoor performance areas that have a unique view of the fjord, the city and the mountains. Secondly, the building connects the city’s two districts, creating a social hub for Molde”.
Location: Molde, Norway
Architect: 3XN Architects
Project type: Cultural Building
Functions: theater, concert hall, cafe, gallery, library, exhibition space
Client: Molde Kulturbyg AB
Construction period: 2009 – 2012
Inauguration: July 2012
Size: 5,800 m2
Price: 187 million Norwegian kroner
Contractor: Brødrende Røsand AS
Engineer: Norconsult AS
Interior Designer: 3XN
Landscape: Molde Municipality