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First look: BIG’s mesmerizing new art gallery floats across a river

The twisting design is an ode to the spirals and twisting geometries found in nature.

In 2011, Bjarke Ingels Group proposed a massive, twisting bridge—and piece of art—designed to join two riverbanks along the meandering Randselva river, just outside of Oslo, Norway.

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Eight years later it’s now complete and exists as both an architectural em dash across the Kistefos Sculpture Park (northern Europe’s largest) and as a contemporary art institution: the Twist Museum. This spiraling art site is located in Jevnaker, a woodland area roughly 43 miles outside of the capital, and occupies about 1,000 square meters. Visitors have the option to walk through Ingels’s piece of practical infrastructure to get from one side of the park to the other, or simply admire it as the large-scale sculptural art installation it is.

[Photo: Laurian Ghinitoiu/courtesy BIG]

“The Twist is a hybrid spanning several traditional categories: It’s a museum, it’s a bridge, it’s an inhabitable sculpture,” Bjarke Ingels, BIG’s founding partner and creative director, said in a press release. “As a bridge it reconfigures the sculpture park turning the journey through the park into a continuous loop. As a museum it connects two distinct spaces—an introverted vertical gallery and an extraverted horizontal gallery with panoramic views across the river. A third space is created through the blatant translation between these two galleries creating the namesake twist.”

In a meta twist, the torqued bridge becomes another sculpture among the park’s existing ones.

[Photo: Laurian Ghinitoiu/courtesy BIG]

Kistefos Sculpture Park is home to many site-specific installations by artists like Anish Kapoor, Olafur Eliasson, and Yayoi Kusama, among others. The addition of the Twist Museum—which is a beam spanning the Randselva, warped in the middle at a 90-degree angle—offers a new indoor-outdoor exhibition space. This structural twist in the bridge allows it to start from the lower, southern riverbank and extend upward into the hilly north. Geometric in its design, the bridge is made up of 40-cm-wide aluminum panels arranged in a fanned, shutter-like composition to create the unique twisting effect.

[Photo: Laurian Ghinitoiu/courtesy BIG]

“The Twist has been an extremely complex building to construct, yet the result is simple and striking,” says David Zahle, a partner at BIG. “From an array of straight elements, the museum was constructed in an industrial manner as both a piece of infrastructure and as a building reflecting its natural surroundings. As you approach The Twist, you start to notice the museum reflecting the trees, the hills and the water below, constantly glimmering and changing its appearance in dialogue with nature.”

It’s a unique space for presenting and viewing art: The floor-to-ceiling glass walls offer an unobscured view of the forest beyond, which also allows different light levels to leak onto the artwork within, depending on the time of day. Thanks to the bridge’s continuous design, the gallery can be entered from either end. The new building will give curators at Kistefos the space to work with more contemporary artists and welcome more visitors in the coming months.

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