Books, blues - and a beautiful building

In collaboration the architectural practices of Børve and Borchsenius, Askim / Lantto and Dronninga Landscape won an international architectural competition to design a cultural centre for the Norwegian city of Notodden.

Troldtekt, Notodden Bok og Bluehuse
Photo: Tommy Kosior, Troldtekt A/S

The brief from the municipality of Notodden was to design an inviting landmark with a very high degree of openness between the floors and good views across the waters of the Heddalsvatnet and the city. It is a good example of a public building where over 3200 sqm of Troldekt white painted acoustic panels in fine structure have been installed on ceilings and walls to absorb reverberated sound from the hard
surfaces and to reduce echoes and noise from heavy visitor traffic.

The Book and Blues centre comprises 5,225 sqm ranged over three floors. It incorporates several quite different functions under one roof – a library, a cinema, a museum, a school of music and performing arts, a blues venue, a recording studio and administration offices for local cultural institutions. In addition, an outdoor amphitheatre, together with beautiful landscaping, play areas and views make this building an important meeting place for the people of Notodden, both inside and out.

The design, inspired by former industrial buildings on the site, is simple and geometric but very dramatic with three large towers diffusing daylight down into the vestibule and public areas below. These well lit spaces enablevisual contact between the building’s different functions and provide great views of the surrounding landscape through large windows and glazed walls, particularly from the library. Throughout, great emphasis has been placed on using robust and maintenance-free materials. For
example, 3,000 sqm of the facades are clad with vertical impregnated heartwood pine while the interior is largely a combination of wood, glass and concrete.