Bergen International Festival offices
designed to resemble a workshop

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Norwegian firm Eriksen Skajaa Architects has redesigned the offices of the team behind the Bergen International Festival, creating an environment that's meant to resemble the backstage areas of a concert.

Bergen International Festival offices designed to resemble a workshop

Eriksen Skajaa Architects created an open-plan office over two floors for the Bergen International Festival, a music and cultural jamboree held in Bergen each summer. This is in contrast to the old offices, which were in a bank and made up of individual rooms.

Bergen International Festival offices designed to resemble a workshop

The designers say the open-plan design is more suited to the company's fluctuating staff numbers and activity in the buildup to the festival throughout the year.

Bergen International Festival offices designed to resemble a workshop

Eriksen Skajaa Architects said its design aesthetic drew on the idea that the offices are like the backstage or workshop for the festival itself.

Bergen International Festival offices designed to resemble a workshop

The studio used a birch wooden framework, polished concrete floors, and black and white walls. Partitions of wooden shelving and vertical wooden fins along glass walls are intended to give the feeling of being in a workshop.

Bergen International Festival offices designed to resemble a workshop

“We have focused on a production logic where it must be clear that this is a place where you make something,” said the architects. “Hence the element of wooden framework which can give the feeling that the project is not fully completed.”

Bergen International Festival offices designed to resemble a workshop

The firm also made it possible for the festival staff to host small concerts and exhibitions in the new offices and designed the canteen so that it doubles as an auditorium.

Bergen International Festival offices designed to resemble a workshop

The rest of the offices also include two meeting rooms, a box of shelving concealing the stairwell, two private offices and a small padded seat built into the shelving.

Bergen International Festival offices designed to resemble a workshop

The bronze bust of the festival's founder, singer Fanny Elster, is displayed in a backlit niche within the wooden shelving grid.

Bergen International Festival offices designed to resemble a workshop
Workshop illustration

The company sourced its furniture from Scandinavian companies such as Design Office, Vitra and Artek, and lighting from Zero and Fagerhult.

Bergen International Festival offices designed to resemble a workshop
Dividers illustration

Another project we've featured by Eriksen Skajaa Architects is a contemplation room which resembles a monastery in the office of a web consultancy firm in Oslo.

Bergen International Festival offices designed to resemble a workshop
Stairs illustration

The Bergen International Festival was established in 1953 and features performances in music, theatre, dance and visual arts.

Bergen International Festival offices designed to resemble a workshop
Meeting room illustration

Photography is by Rasmus Norlander. Illustrations by Eriksen Skajaa Architects.

Here's more from the architects.


The workshop behind the scenes

Interiors for the Bergen International Festival in Vaskerelvsmauet 6, Bergen, Norway.

Background

Bergen International Festival is a music and cultural festival to be held in Bergen in late May and early June each year. The festival is the largest of its kind and contains a wide range of events in music, theatre, dance and visual arts at the national and international level. Concerts are held in the Grieg Hall and Haakon's Hall, in the four composer homes on Siljustøl, Trolhaugen, Lysøen and Valestrandsfossen as well as in a number of city churches, streets and squares. The first festival was held in 1953.

Bergen International Festival offices designed to resemble a workshop
5th floor plan - click for larger image

Concept: workshop/behind the scenes

The festival's former premises were in an older bank building with large individual offices and for their new offices wanted open plan offices for increasingly project based work.

We have therefore prepared a project with a high degree of flexibility. The use of the premises changes during the year with a shift from planning period to the festival period in which both the activity and number of employees increases. It requires flexibility both in the workforce and in the use of the premises. We also proposed to facilitate the ability to organise small concerts and exhibitions in the new premises and that way linking the festival as an organisation closer to the events they hold.

We established early some basic ideas for the premises: the festival offices imagined as workshops where the festival is made, but also the activity behind the scenes of what's happening in front of the curtain. We have focused on a production logic where it must be clear that this is a place where you make something. Hence the element of wooden framework which can give the feeling that the project is not fully completed, and glass walls with frames and profiles hidden from the outside so that the boxes rather look like open spaces. We have otherwise had a clear Scandinavian focus on the materiality and furniture selection, while the festival wanted to stand clear in context with the Grieg Hall, Bergen Art Museums and theatre.

Layout

We have drawn the plans so that the rooms have some organising elements such as meeting rooms and the shelf-box around the stairwell. We have had a focus on keeping the lines and let the walls align with each other to create a neat and orderly plan.

On the 5th floor are two flexible rooms for different uses: offices for project jobs and dining room. On the same floor there are also two meeting rooms, rest rooms, toilets, storage, wardrobe for guests and a printer room. The dining room can both be divided with loose walls and used as a concert hall with a stage toward the stair core, or as used today with a grand piano placed at one end wall.

On the 6th floor open plan offices are reorganised around another shelf-box around the stairwell. We also made two closed offices. On the floor there is also a copy rooms and a meeting room that can also serve as a place for temporary employees.

Bergen International Festival offices designed to resemble a workshop
6th floor plan - click for larger image

Design

Material palette is kept very simple and consists of a polished concrete floor, black and white walls with recessed plinth and either fixed plaster ceiling or acoustic hiling with concealed edges and large formats. Many of the rooms in the premises has walls of vertical wooden frameworks of birch with glass system wall behind mounted with concealed fixing. Rooms with wooden frame work have ceiling of birch and birch flooring.

The boxes around the previous round stairwell is in birch veneer with shelves, cabinets and benches and is used as a place to make a phone call or to small meetings. The bronze bust of the festival's founder, singer Fanny Elster, also got a niche with lighting behind.

The furniture is from: Design Office, Vitra, Artek, Hay and Nikari, while illumination is from Zero and Fagerhult.

Architects: Eriksen Skajaa Architects
Project team: Arild Eriksen, Joakim Skajaa, Julia With
Size: 450m2
Year: 2013
Client: Bergen International Festival / Gjølanger Bruk