Harbour landmark given musical makeover while retaining historical features
Rockheim, the Norwegian national museum of pop and rock, was completed in august 2010.
The starting point for Pir II's competition winning project is a listed warehouse building from 1920, whose historical value is limited to being an important landmark in the harbour. The key elements of the competition brief was to deliver a building design that was "brave" and "provocative", same as the nature of rock n'roll. As it turned out, the project also generated a certain amount of braveness from the local preservation authority as well.
The overall concept of the transformation is to show the history of the building as honest as possible. This meant a clear conceptual distinction between what is new and what is old, but also preserving as much as possible of the exterior and interior of the existing building. This is articulated in three main volumes; top box, side box and the existing warehouse.
Public functions are mainly located in visible areas on ground level and in the transparent ‘gap' between the warehouse and the top box, while staff areas are in the middle of the existing building. The top box, the main exhibition space, is covered in glass panels printed with album covers from the history of Norwegian pop music, illuminated with shifting colours/ images at night (13000 individually controlled LEDs). There have been developed systems for the users of the public park in front, to interact with the LED-screen, from mobile phones. The lower black box, a music venue, will over time be covered with climbing plants.
The reading of the in between spaces has been important, and they have been challenged by the lack of available building space and volume. The outer dimensional limits have been an important design factor in this project: There was no site in front of the existing building, and no site on the back. Building on top of the existing building was the only option available, to fit in a building program that was about twice the volume of the existing building.
Exterior and interior surfaces of the façade walls have been conserved, as they tell an important story. Interior beam- and column-surfaces havebeen kept untreated for the same reason. The existing roof has been removed to give room for the transparent café floor, as space between the old and the new.
The old building is a rough one, which was built for "heavy duty" purposes, so the attitude have also been a "rough" one, almost testing how much impact the building could take. Also a leading concept in handling the building has been to show the "wounds" where we have made changes or subtractions from the structure.
Along with the tourists visiting the building and exhibitions, events as concerts and temporary exhibitions will keep the people of Trondheim city revisiting Rockheim. The view from the restaurant shows an impressive panorama of Trondheim city center, the central harbour and the fjord.