3XN : ‘Buen’ Cultural Housing

3XN has proposed a masterplan for a cultural center and new residential units in Mandal, Norway - entitled “Buen” [the arch]. The project is described by 3XN as ‘a green blanket that elevates and makes room for the cultural center, and thus integrates it in the surrounding landscape‘.

The masterplan focuses on reflecting the characteristics of the ‘classic’ Norwegian wooden house, through the scale and proportion of the stepped housing units. The cultural center is pushed towards the water, opening up to the rest of Mandal on the other side of the river.

The undulating roof of the cultural center appears as a rolling hill, sloping upwards from the landscape - giving residents and visitors a usable, central outdoor space on the waterfront. This allows for the the center to occupy the land right on the water, without blocking access to the views and waterfront pedestrian experience. Underneath this artificial hillside the center will contain a café, library, gallery spaces, and [I believe] the hotel restaurant. The design also incorporates a hotel into the plan - giving guests easy access to the center’s library + exhibitions, and therefore further insight into the local culture.

Whereas the cultural center is a signifier of the area, the hotel and the surrounding housing form a coherent low-dense area referring to the scale of the town. The master plan tries to keep motoring traffic at a minimum and establish instead the narrow pathways and greens characteristic of the garden city [via 3XN].