The new Knowledge and Cultural Centre is located in the historic town centre in Kongsberg, housing a variety of functions including the campus of the University College of Southeast Norway/HSN, vocational college Tinius Olson, public library, theatre, cinemas, municipal offices and youth centre.
Mecanoo’s design for an open and flexible cultural centre connects closely with the cultural life of Kongsberg. While the different functions are organised in blocks to fulfil each user’s needs, they intersect to stimulate interaction between the various organisations.
Shared functions are placed at the heart of the building, among them the public library that connects the church square with the park 12 metres below. Continuing the pavement surface from outside to inside underlines this new public route. On the park side, an amphitheatre in the grass with dress circle seating accommodates open-air performances.
Variations in landscape levels separate the different streams of visitors at the various entrances. The facade of vertical, rough timber fins references the local architecture and contrasts with the warm, light interior of mostly timber and concrete. Subtle silver accents reflect the daylight.
The entire complex can be flexibly used. After university hours, the canteen transforms into a lively cafe, the public library doubles as the theatre foyer, and the art gallery becomes a bar during film screenings.
Lectures, screenings, council meetings, dance performances, concerts and dinners take place in the central theatres. The main 600-seat auditorium is equipped with flexible walls and a mechanically adjustable chair system that facilitates every possible seating configuration.