Decoding Design

In Norway, a showstopping concert hall

Posting in Cities

Recently opened in January 2012, Kilden is the largest cultural building ever built in southern Norway.

The Kilden performing arts center in Kristiansand, Norway is a gorgeous example of a civic scaled building that is monumental and at the same time approachable. ALA Architects in collaboration with SMS Arkitekter wanted to create an inviting, inclusive space so they used a simple yet engaging form and familiar materials. The effect is a straightforward building unique enough to be a landmark for the city.

The Kilden creates a central hub for three cultural organizations: the Agder Theater, the Kristiansand Philharmonic and the Opera South. The 24,600 square meter (264,792 square feet) building houses a 1200 seat concert hall, a 750 seat theater and opera hall, a multi-purpose hall, a small theater hall, offices, workshops, and rehearsal spaces.

The building's interior spaces are organized into linear zones of performance, audience, production, and support. The performance halls line up in the middle of the building and are separated from auxiliary spaces by a production "street" that is wide enough for trucks to drive in and deliver sets and materials. Advanced acoustic design allows all four performance halls to be used simultaneously. The complex project required a large team of structural and mechanical engineers, acoustic specialists, and theater engineers.

As you can tell by the photos, the showstopper of the building is an undulating wooden cantilever. It starts at the underside of the performance halls and sweeps up to become the ceiling of the public foyer. Echoing the waves of an Alvar Aalto vase, the canopy extends out into the public space by the city's waterfront. The wooden structure isn't just for show; the tapered grooves between the slats helps the canopy act as a baffle and improve the acoustics of the foyer.

Materials for the project were locally sourced as much as possible. The wood is local oak that has been CNC milled and fully treated in Kristiansand. All concrete is from a factory 200 meters down the harbor. The aluminum on the pleated exterior walls, in a recessive black so that the wooden wave can be the star, is from a factory across the fjord.

The Kilden performing arts center opened in January 2012.

Images: courtesy ALA Architects, copyright Tuomas Uusheimo

Share this

Sun Kim

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Sun Joo Kim is an architect and creative consultant based in Boston. Her projects include design and master planning of museums, public institutions, hospitals, and university buildings across the U.S. She holds a degree from Carnegie Mellon University and is a member of the U.S. Green Building Council. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure