3XN has designed a new new cultural center for the Norwegian city of Molde. The city has just 25,000 inhabitants, but every July the biggest stars of jazz and about 100,000 jazz enthusiasts flock to the town's world famous international jazz festival.
"There must be room for celebration in this building, both inside, on top of it and around it," commented Jan Ammundsen, Head of Competition and Partner of 3XN. "And it must be able to withstand being invaded by happy people throughout the year - year after year."
Located in the city center and overlooking both the fjord and the mountains, the 'Plassen' cultural center is an obvious meeting point. With an optimal use of every square meter, 3XN has created a building that can function both when a hundred and 100,000 people gather for concerts, festivals or theater.
The architectural solution is a structure where almost all surfaces and spaces have more than one function. Together with the building's roof, an existing staircase next to the building constitute a total of three outdoor amphitheatres that collectively accommodate several thousand spectators. During the day the roof offers a cafe with outdoor seating, a recreational area with splendid views and exhibition space for the building's gallery; while the staircase on the side of the building is an essential link between the city's upper and lower districts.
"Plassen is a compact and chaste construction, but by giving the shape a number of breaches, we have created a diversity in its expression, which means that it is flexible and roomy, without seeming very big," Ammundsen explained.
The same bright granite is used on all exterior surfaces and gives the building a bright monochrome expression that in the evening is contrasted by a warm red light coming from the heart of the building - the concert hall - around which other features, such as a library, cafe, exhibition space and performance areas are distributed. The warm color scheme of the interior combined with the solid hardwood floors and plenty of natural light result in a friendly and informal environment, which together with the many entrances make the building seem inviting and accessible to all.