Tuesday 18 Jun 2013


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The new Statoil regional and international offices at Fornebu is result of an open competition won by Norwegian architects a-lab in February 2009, with completion of the building the autumn of 2012.

"How to build a flexible international “working platform” for Norway's largest company? How can a building express Statoil's core values – openness and courageousness? We challenged them by suggesting an extreme structure, with a capacity for flexible solutions and monumental spans. The goal was to make the most innovative office building in Norway, through cooperation between architects and interior architects and through how the building and its interior work together in facilitating top innovative performance.  

We achieved fantastic views and daylight for the offices and the minimal building area by decomposing the programme and stacking the lamellas in the way you can see here. Adjusting the angles of the lamellas optimized the views. In the middle, a main circulation tower connects the lamellas through bridges. 

Plan 1 has common facilities such as restaurant and meeting centre. Plan 3 is the typical office plan. The main communication tower connects the different office lammellas via bridges. The top lamella is placed diagonally on top of the others. Here the communication tower penetrates the lamella in the middle, creating a central communication axis with working areas on each side

The building ensures optimal views and daylight for all employees. This has its background in the Norwegian modernist tradition of democracy and equality, the democratic workplace. Contact with the landscape is an important trait of the same tradition, and here the different lamellas open the building in different directions. To ensure this quality in the daily work of the employees, office desks are placed along the windows and meeting rooms along the middle of each lamella. This is an interpretation of traditional Nordic modernism: “daylight for all”.

The atrium works as the extended “water cooler” in the building. This is where people meet, in the cantina, in the lap top workspaces in the middle, by the “grab and go” or in the staircase tower that connects the different office lamellas. The idea is to facilitate unplanned encounters; people have to meet during the day because of movement patterns in the building. Friction is a catalyst for innovation. Unplanned encounters can lead to surprises. This principle was developed in cooperation with Statoil.

The 6 storey atrium is the Statoil plaza. The vertical circulation tower and the floating bridges make orientation easy. The restaurants and cafeteria are situated partly inside the northern lamella, and partly out in the 6 storey atrium to create different experiences of eating. There is also a kiosk for fast eating, and a service centre for shirt cleaning and phone fixing.

LOUNGE The lounge is an area for lap-top working and informal meetings. Employees describe that the communication core encourages unplanned, informal encounters. This is important in an innovation company like Statoil. It enables exchange and the development of ideas across departments.

ATRIUM All the main circulation areas in the lamellas have visual contact with the atrium that functions like a big heart of the building. All the metal surfaces of the atrium are perforated for acoustic reasons. The cafes and restaurants have different seating areas. More intimate in the lamellas, and more airy and exposed out in the atrium/plaza area.

ARTWORK The building´s artwork is all integrated, both on the outside and inside.  Statoil invited international artists to do this. The big video installations on the more urban side of the building, on each side of the entrance, are by Pippilotta Rist.

MATERIALS The tower of stairs is universal design and at the same time a statement of Nordic contrasts: the warm wood that your hand follows along the inside meets the cold Nordic light and harder materials like steel and stone.

OFFICES Another innovation in the building: The “climate plank”, as we call it. These ceiling elements contain both sprinkling, light, cooling and ventilation in modules of 3x3 metres. This makes it possible to raise walls anywhere to easily create meeting rooms, according to the tenant´s shifting needs.

COST EFFICIENT Some think the reason why this building is so coherent from concept to detail is a rich client. This is not the case. The Statoil building is as cost efficient as it is energy efficient. The secret is a fantastic collaboration between all the parties involved – developer, client, contractor, architects and interior designers and craftsmen. They shared the loyalty to a clear concept and ideas that they all felt ownership to: Democratic architecture through technical innovations. "