COBE and Transform complete the zigzagging
Porsgrunn Maritime Museum

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Danish architects COBE and Transform have completed an aluminium-clad museum of maritime history in Norway with a zigzagging profile modelled on the shapes of local wooden buildings (+ slideshow).

COBE and Transform complete the zigzagging Porsgrunn Maritime Museum

Located south-west of Oslo in the harbourside town of Porsgrunn, the Maritime Museum and Exploratorium was designed by COBE and Transform to relate to the scale of its surroundings, which include a number of small wooden residences and warehouses.

COBE and Transform complete the zigzagging Porsgrunn Maritime Museum
Photograph by Rasmus Hjortshøj

The architects broke the volume of the building down into eleven blocks, with asymmetric roofs that pitch in different directions. Combined, these shapes give a zigzagging roofline to each elevation.

COBE and Transform complete the zigzagging Porsgrunn Maritime Museum
Photograph by Rasmus Hjortshøj

"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."

COBE and Transform complete the zigzagging Porsgrunn Maritime Museum
Photograph by Rasmus Hjortshøj

"This interpretation of the area's pitched roofs and small wooden building entities sets the final frame for a unique and characteristic contemporary building," he added.

COBE and Transform complete the zigzagging Porsgrunn Maritime Museum

Aluminium shingles give a scaly surface to the outer walls and roof of the museum, and pick up reflections from the river that runs alongside.

COBE and Transform complete the zigzagging Porsgrunn Maritime Museum

Opening today, the museum's exhibition galleries chart the town's maritime history and tell the story of its dockyard industry.

COBE and Transform complete the zigzagging Porsgrunn Maritime Museum

A grand staircase leads visitors up to a large exhibition hall on the first floor, while smaller galleries and events rooms are housed on the ground floor.

COBE and Transform complete the zigzagging Porsgrunn Maritime Museum

Transform principal Lars Bendrup said he hopes that the building will help to revitalise the formerly industrial section of the town.

COBE and Transform complete the zigzagging Porsgrunn Maritime Museum

"Our general vision was to turn a backside into a frontside," he said. "With the new museum, the town will now orientate itself towards the beautiful river that for much too long has been Porsgrunn's industrial backside."

COBE and Transform complete the zigzagging Porsgrunn Maritime Museum
Photograph by Rasmus Hjortshøj

Photography is by Adam Mørk, apart from where otherwise stated.

Here's a project description from COBE and Transform:


Porsgrunn Maritime Museum and Exploratorium

Today is the grand opening of a new spectacular Maritime Museum and Exploratorium in the Norwegian town Porsgrunn. The building is designed by the Danish architects COBE and TRANSFORM, and has already, before the opening, become an architectural landmark of the town.

COBE and Transform complete the zigzagging Porsgrunn Maritime Museum

From backside to frontside

Porsgrunn Maritime Museum and Exploratorium is situated in the Norwegian town of Porsgrunn, 100 km south west of Oslo. The new museum will tell the story of the town’s dock yard industry and its maritime history, which has employed thousands of people from the whole region. In addition, the attractive location of the museum right on the riverside opens up an important process for the city concerning the future extensive urban renewal of the entire Porsgrunn Harbour area.

COBE and Transform complete the zigzagging Porsgrunn Maritime Museum

"Porsgrunn is an industrial town, which is reflected clearly in the museum’s surrounding context. It consists of small to medium sized industries in the shape of small characteristic wooden buildings. It was important to create a museum with a high level of sensitivity towards these surroundings, yet at the same time for the new Maritime Museum and Exploratorium to stand out as a spectacular contemporary building and become a landmark of Porsgrunn," Lars Bendrup explains, owner of TRANSFORM, and continues: "Our general vision was to turn a backside into a frontside. With the new museum the town will now orientate itself towards the beautiful river, which for much too long has been Porsgrunn’s industrial backside."

COBE and Transform complete the zigzagging Porsgrunn Maritime Museum

New meets old

The new Maritime Museum and Exploratorium is composed of eleven smaller square volumes, together amounting to almost 2,000 m2. Each volume has a different roof slant that assembled make up a varied roof structure. A characteristic aluminium facade, locally produced in Porsgrunn, not only holds the dynamic building structure together, but at the same time it reflects light and colours from the surrounding Norwegian mountain landscape.

COBE and Transform complete the zigzagging Porsgrunn Maritime Museum

Dan Stubbergaard, founder and creative director of COBE, elaborates: "It is a sensitive art adding new to old in a historic area. First of all 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. 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. This interpretation of the area's pitched roofs and small wooden building entities sets the final frame for a unique and characteristic contemporary building."

Ground floor plan of COBE and Transform complete the zigzagging Porsgrunn Maritime Museum
Ground floor plan - click for larger image

He continues: "The goal was to create a house that not only understands and shows consideration for its surroundings, but also contributes with something radically new and different."

First floor plan of COBE and Transform complete the zigzagging Porsgrunn Maritime Museum
First floor plan - click for larger image

Porsgrunn Maritime Museum and Exploratorium
Porsgrunn, Norway
Client: Telemark Museum
Architects: COBE and TRANSFORM
Engineers: Sweco
Gross area: 2.000 m2
Construction period: 2011-2013
Total construction costs: 34 mio.

Section of COBE and Transform complete the zigzagging Porsgrunn Maritime Museum
Section - click for larger image
  • Commenter

    Is it a joke? I thought Danish architecture should be on a good level.

    • Mario

      So should any comments be.