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3XN Transforms a Brown Site into a Green One

February 19, 2008

By Robert Such

A brownfield in Norway will be going green, literally, thanks to a new master plan that calls for a rolling green roof to shelter a cultural center. The Danish architecture firm 3XN beat out Henning Larsen Architects, Niels Torp, L2 Arkitekter, and IN’BY LPO Arlitektur and Design in an invited competition to redevelop a former industrial waterfront known as Nedre Malmø, in the town of Mandal.

“Buen” cultural building in 3XN’s waterfront redevelopment in Mandal
“Buen” cultural building in 3XN’s waterfront redevelopment in Mandal
“Buen” cultural building in 3XN’s waterfront redevelopment in Mandal

Images courtesy 3XN

A green roof will shelter the “Buen” cultural building in 3XN’s waterfront redevelopment in Mandal, Norway (top).  Row housing will flank the Buen building (middle). The Buen, or Arch, rises 46 feet at its highest point, creating space for performance halls and other elements below (above).

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The $30 million complex, developed by a municipal organization, will stand on the eastern bank of the River Mandal. The architects divided the 6-acre site into sections containing a cultural hall, housing, and a hotel. In plan, the dividing lines produce a shape that resembles “a flower coming out towards the water,” says Kim Herforth Nielsen, 3XN’s founding architect. “We cut up the first lines for the cultural building, and moved it up like a carpet, and created this space [underneath].”

Called the “Buen,” or Arch, the cultural center creates a rise in the landscape that reaches 46 feet at its highest point. The two-story, 48,500-square foot building includes a public library, concert and theater halls, cinema, gallery, and a music school. Compared to the curvier, more sensuously designed exterior, the interior layout will be “fairly regular,” Nielsen says. “When you’re working with a concert hall, theater hall, for the acoustics, they want a shoe box.”

The master plan also includes 80 housing units in rows of four-story buildings, a 150-room luxury hotel, and a pedestrian- and bike-friendly road system. The long, continuous rooflines and varying slopes and angles of the housing rooflines bring to mind a or but they come from 3XN’s reworking of the local vernacular. “The wooden houses in Mandal have just normal roofs,” Nielsen says. “So we took this up and tried to twist it a little bit to make a reference to the old house but in a new way, and to put in windows in quite a different way, so it’s more an abstract reference to the old houses.”

A new 525-foot-long bridge, also designed by 3XN, will link the redevelopment site to the town center on the opposite river bank. Construction on the complex is expected to begin in early 2009 and finish by 2011.

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