Frederic Schwartz Architects


Oslo, Norway

The National Art Museum (NMAAD) invites the city to a vibrant central meeting place that will resonate with the collective memory of Norway, while also putting its collections on display. Designed as a magnet for the public, the museum complex is an innovative and attractive international cultural destination that recognizes the important interplay of architecture, landscape, fjordscape and cityscape.

The museum was conceived as a totality – an interaction of art, light, materials and space – a place that offers new perspectives to experience and study art, architecture and design.The openness and transparency welcomes visitors, and the spaciousness of the entry hall and its direct access to the public plaza promotes the connection and engagement of art and leisure. In the broadest sense, the design will foster a lively public house of culture.  

Within the urban fabric, the museum creates a memorable link between the past, present and future through its great open public spaces that promote interaction. The design respects the cultural heritage and integrity of its notable neighbours: the Western Railway Station – Vestbanen (Nobel Peace Centre and future Ministry of Foreign Affairs Centre for Development Cooperation), Oslo City Hall and Rådhusplassen. The new museum complex preserves, protects and enhances this important urban space with a dignified, civic-scaled western perimeter. The art museum plaza will be a destination on its own, a grand public space that promotes interaction by setting a stage for people and art just as the building itself forms the backdrop for the cultural heritage buildings at Vestbanen. 

Our approach for the NMAAD is marked by clarity and restraint to create a highly functional museum and support spaces that are beautiful and compelling without being overbearing or excessive. The design organizes the programme into a highly functional and rational plan that is open and inviting. The architecture of the museum (inside and out) is a neutral container for art that promotes public access for the users, creating a lively meeting place. Contrasting modern materials (glass and concrete) are juxtaposed to foster a dynamic interaction between inside and outside, transparence and opacity, lightness and weight. The museum’s massing and materials complement the heritage buildings and will promote a cultural dialogue about new and old. The facade creates a sophisticated, jazz-like syncopated pattern in vertical combinations of glass and concrete.

Along with the new Opera House, the National Museum for Art Architecture and Design (NMAAD) will be one of the largest cultural buildings in Oslo. The location is very significant for public space along the waterfront, with its connections to the cityscape and the fjordscape. The harbourfront has seen a great deal of development over the last few decades in this area and the NMAAD will help anchor its continued growth and success.








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