[ REX ] Yin Yang

Last week, Bustler reported on the winners of the international competition for the new Munch Area in Oslo’s waterfront neighborhood Bjørvika. The proposal “Yin Yang” by New York-based architecture firm REXwon the second prize in this competition (together with the proposal“Girls on the Bridge” by Christ & Gantenbein, Switzerland and LieØyen Arkitekter, Norway).

Here’s a closer look at REX’s concept for “Yin Yang”:

2nd prize winner in Oslo: the proposal “Yin Yang” by REX

Oslo, Norway

CLIENT HAV Eiendom, Oslo Kommune
PROGRAM Art museum housing the Munch and Stenersen Collections, self-produced exhibitions, and travelling exhibitions
AREA 16,585 m² (178,520 sf)
STATUS Limited competition, second prize, 2009
KEY PERSONNEL Lee Altman, Haviland Argo, Gabrielle Brainard,Keith Burns, Alex Diez, Jeffrey Franklin, Javier Haddad, DavidMenicovich, Joshua Prince-Ramus, Jacob Reidel
CONSULTANTS José Miguel Iribas, Lord, Magnusson Klemencic, Transsolar

Daytime Rendering

Nighttime Rendering

Oslo recently celebrated the opening of its world-acclaimed OperaHouse, an important step in the city’s commitment to developingBjørvika and to unifying Oslo’s eastern and western centres. With fourmore significant projects under development within the district—OsloCentral Station, the Barcode, the Deichman Axis and the Munch Area—Oslomust be wary of overwhelming Bjørvika with too many strong visuallandmarks. Such a constellation would undermine the Opera’siconographic power, and dilute the identity of the city as a whole.

Theskylight and glass floor in the Munch Studios Gallery allow naturallight into the administration rooms and the painting, paper, andsculpture studios.

To best complement the Opera, the Munch Museum should forge a newkind of iconography—one based on innovative building performance, notsignature form—to command a significant place within Oslo’s mentallandscape. Where the Opera is strong, REX’s “Yin Yang” proposal for thenew Munch Museum is strategic, establishing itself as a worthycounterpart by radically addressing two cardinal challenges facingcontemporary museum design.

Challenge 1: The new Munch Museum demands its galleries tobe extremely flexible. They must accommodate all types of artisticidioms, to grow or shrink in accord with the number and size oftemporary exhibitions, to be intimate or majestic, sky-lit or blackedout, permeable or soundproof. Contemporary museum flexibility istypically conceived as generic white boxes—a blank slate—in which anyexhibition format can be constructed. In practice however, as artisticmedia grow more diverse and museum operational budgets become morelimited, a blank slate becomes constrictive: museums can not afford toendlessly transform their generic galleries. The result is not freedom,but imprisonment within a white box.

Strategy 1: By embracing a new form of galleryflexibility, REX’s proposal for the new Munch Museum avoids this trap.Yin Yang offers complete flexibility—without increasing operationalcosts—by providing built-in tools. The galleries are arranged into anarray of eight, distinct typologies, each with its own proportions,materiality, lighting, circulation and form of flexibility. While amuseum with a single gallery type requires great expense to transformitself, the array’s range of galleries guarantees curatorial freedomregardless of budgetary constraints. It can accommodate a spectrum ofcuratorial visions and can be reconfigured, both with no futureadditional cost.

Manifestedas a flexible array of distinct gallery types surrounded by a ring ofpublic circulation, Yin Yang asserts a unique, performance-drivenpresence in Bjørvika while still deferring to the new Opera’s iconicpower.

Challenge 2: The new Munch Museum requires a flexiblecirculation sequence capable of individually or simultaneouslypresenting the museum’s own collections, self-produced exhibitions andtravelling exhibitions. The classic museum procession is a lobby thatbegins and ends a linear loop of galleries. This compulsory circulationcauses major curatorial and operational problems for the institutionsit organizes: they must use all their galleries at once and cannoteasily subdivide their space for simultaneous shows. Institutions withthis sequence have to continuously “feed the beast,” exhibitingblockbuster after blockbuster, and must support staffs capable ofmanaging shows this size.

Strategy 2: The REX proposal for the new Munch Museumwraps all un-ticketed spaces into a public “ring” around the galleries.Rather than imposing a fixed procession on curators and patrons, thisorganization provides independent access to each gallery, or aprocession through any plausible combination or permutation ofgalleries. The public ring—including shops, lecture hall, auditorium,café, restaurant, education spaces and sponsors lounges—doubles as themain circulation for the galleries, fostering new, dynamicrelationships between the two and increasing area efficiency.

Thewalls of the Classical Gallery’s central hall are designed high enoughto exhibit monumental works, such as Munch’s The Sun, Alma Mater, andThe Human Mountain. Similarly, its floor is designed to display Munch’sdelicate, oversized sketches that are too fragile to mount onstretchers. The Classical Gallery is closest to the main entrance, andif desired, can serve as the entrée to Munch’s work.

Threepavilions are based upon Munch’s studios at Ekely, Norway, and both theinteriors and exteriors of the pavilions can be used for art display.One pavilion is open to the sky to simulate Munch’s outdoor paintingstudio. The glass floor around the pavilions provides sunlight to theadministration rooms and the painting, paper, and sculpture studiosbelow.

Followingin the tradition of the house museum and the private collection (and incontrast to the Classical Gallery), the Villa Gallery provides space todisplay art in an intimate, domestic setting.

Theunusual forms of the Shaped Gallery provide a foil with which—andagainst which—exhibitions and artworks can interact, similar to thespiral gallery of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York.

TheUniversal Gallery is one of three “Reconfigurable Galleries” in thearray, utilizing a system of ceiling-mounted, movable panels forconventional art display. The ceiling grid is designed to hang large,heavy pieces of art as well.

TheWhite Box Gallery provides a dedicated space that can accommodate largecontemporary works of art. In the event that an even larger gallery isneeded, the panelized side walls of the White Box Gallery can be easilystored within the installation room. This opens the White Box to theadjoining Universal Gallery and Accordion Gallery to create acontiguous 1,540 m² space—equivalent to the largest gallery spaces atmany of the world’s leading museums. If desired, roll-down shutterdoors open one side of the gallery entirely to the public ring.

TheAccordion Gallery—the second of three “Reconfigurable Galleries”—isequipped with walls which can be moved laterally to create spaces ofdiffering widths, a classical enfilade, or a large open room.

The third “Reconfigurable Gallery” is the Rotating Gallery, whose four walls can easily swivel to allow for rapid rearrangement.

By creating a flexible array of distinct gallery types andsurrounding them with a ring of public circulation, Yin Yang asserts aunique, performance-driven presence in Bjørvika while still deferringto the new Opera’s iconographic power.

Inthe spirit of the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Humlebæk, Denmark,the public ring provides moments of repose with views to the fjord andcity, and spaces adjacent to the galleries for the display of lesssensitive artworks.

Close up of the lobby ring

Ground Level

Level 1

Transition from the lobby ring to the galleries

Overall Model Shot

Model View to Commons

Munch Area Master Plan

Similarto the proposed design of the Munch Museum, the three courtyardbuildings use strategy—not signature form—to make a lasting, positivemark on their environs. Seemingly just three, simple, contemporaryversions of Oslo’s urban fabric stepping down toward the water, theyharbor secret gardens that stitch together the Aker River Commons andthe Station Commons.

Eachgarden is distinct, aligned to the program of its container. Thehousing block contains a forest; the business center contains a piazza;and the hotel block contains a rustic seafront. Coincidentally, theircontents also reference Oslo’s expression, “The blue and the green andthe city in between.” The courtyard of the housing block contains aforest.

from  bustler

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