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AART Architects win design competition for Old Bergen Museum in historic wooden city

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Heritage Great Britain
c£70,000 + benefits + relocation support
location: Snowdonia, North Wales, United Kingdom
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Danish studio AART Architects have won an international design competition to create a new visitor centre for one of Norway's largest open-air museums.

In the 1800's, Bergen was the largest wooden city in Europe, with timber houses forming the setting for vibrant streets and squares. This historic urban environment is celebrated at the Gamle Bergen Museum (the Old Bergen Museum), which organised the competition to identify a design for its visitor centre expansion.

AART Architects, in a team with landscape designers SLA and Norwegian consultants Norconsult, swayed the judges with their vision for a trio of connected but staggered saddleback-roofed houses in wood that frame the view of the open-air museum.

The outdoor and indoor spaces are connected, with a centrally located stairway creating an inner, spatial relationship and a place for visitors to sit, socialise and look out over the city.

In a design statement, they said their design “interprets the historic town environment in a way that respects that the city's cultural heritage and modern museum communication go hand in hand.”

“The visitor centre not only takes shape after the old wooden houses; it also draws the historic urban environment into the foyer,” said Thomas Pedersen, head of AART Architects' Norwegian department. “It’s introvert and extrovert at the same time. All with a focus on giving visitors a preview of the experience that awaits.”

Marianne L. Nielsen, CEO at the museum, said: “The winning proposal is marked by high quality and a timeless expression well suited to the other buildings in the museum. Through it, we will strengthen the story of the museum, consider the town history in a broader context and revitalise the local area.”

AART Architects are working on a number of cultural projects across Europe, including a national rowing stadium near Copenhagen and an extension of Oslo’s Viking Age Museum. SLA are also working on a number of high-profile projects, including the development of a national park near the city of Roskilde into a 1,500 ha cultural landscape called The New Hedeland.

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Danish studio AART Architects have won an international design competition to create a new visitor centre for one of Norway's largest open-air museums.
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