Opened in 1999, Kistefos Sculpture Park now contains 46 sculptures scattered in the landscape, in a forest around an old paper mill on a bend of the Randselva River. In this striking natural landscape, under trees and in clearings, along the banks of the river and inside the old brick mill, sculptures have been inserted by Norwegian and international artists like Anish Kapoor and Olafur Eliasson, Fernando Botero and Elmgreen&Dragset, Fabrizio Plessi and Tony Cragg, just to name a few.
The park-museum had a single passage that permitted crossing from one side of the river to the other, and the competition for an added footbridge, won by the firm BIG with its first project in Norway, improves access to the park and a more suitable visit itinerary. The solution is a bridge closed along the sides with access from the two heads, a work that combines exhibits and refreshment with the bridge’s main function, containing a cafe, restrooms and various spatial configurations for exhibits.
At the same time, the compositional solution of an ideal rectangular beam that twists by 90° at the middle takes on sculptural value, as an infrastructural addition to the silent works standing in the park. As Bjarke Ingels explains, “we were fascinated by the dramatic landscape of Kistefos: the bending river, the wooded banks, the steep terrain. Our design for the Twist offers a second bridge inside the sculpture park, forming a continuous loop across both riverbanks. The bridge with its various facilities represents our first experiment on the theme of social infrastructure: a building that acts as a bridge, or a cultural institution that acts as infrastructure.”
The solution of the compositional twisting of a simple geometric body has been seen in other architectural experiments, including the suspended connection (Bridge of Aspiration, 2003) between the Royal Opera House and the Royal Ballet School in London designed by Wilkinson Eyre; but while in that case the architectural twirl joined two buildings, here in the chilly Norwegian forests of Jevnaker the Twist unites two segments of territory, acting as a manmade presence in both figurative and functional terms.
The geometric form of reference – the ideal beam – is an uninterrupted pathway that spans the river and becomes part of the landscape. The latter can be seen through the continuous glazing of the northern side, towards the old paper mill, following the twisted 90-degree movement to become a sort of skylight placed in a central position. The volumetric variation enables the inhabitable bridge to connect at different levels of the banks: lower for the vertical entrance and the opposite extremity, slightly higher for the glazed horizontal accessway.
The double curve of the construction is composed of a series of aluminium panels with a width of 40 centimeters, arranged parallel and independently to adapt to the rotation, like a stack of books that has slipped into a fan-like formation. The same solution is repeated on the inside, where a sequence of fir slats of just 8 centimeters, painted white and placed side by side, sculpturally follow the twist of the evocative, enveloping volume, white like the external enclosure. The space along which to walk is like a seamless series of three ‘distinct’ environments.
The first part is like a gallery, receiving natural light, with a panoramic view towards north and a solid wall on which to place artworks; the exhibition space at the opposite end has the same proportions as the gallery, but rotated by 90°. Hence the measurement of the plan of the first space becomes the height of the second, and the height of the first is transformed into the horizontal width of the ‘vertical’ gallery, without openings and lit by artificial means. In the middle, as a sculptural joint, the space of the twist connects the two exhibition spaces that face each other, in keeping with the design philosophy of the Twist.
Project BIG – Bjarke Ingels, David Zahle with Eva Seo-Andersen and Mikkel Marcker Stubgaard
Photos Laurian-Ghinitoiu, courtesy of BIG