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Arctic Culture Center

Hammerfest, Norway

Short information

Building category
Education and Culture
FW 50+
Hammerfest, Norway
A-Lab AS
Nord Norsk Aluminium AS


Project details

Project description

The Arctic Culture Centre, designed by the Norwegian architects A-lab Arkitekturlaboratoriet AS, is located in the world’s most northerly city. At 70°39’48”, Hammerfest is on the same latitude as the northernmost areas of Siberia, the centre of Greenland and the northernmost point of Alaska. Along this imaginary line, temperatures rarely rise above freezing point even in summertime.

Urban development at 70°39’48”

A thousand kilometers north of the Arctic Circle, the sun does not set for two months in the summer and in the winter the sun does not rise for the same period of time. What is an unforgettable vacation experience for tourists in Norway is for the 10,000 residents of Hammerfest – the world’s northernmost city – just as much a part of everyday life as the gray postwar architecture and the scant cultural events on offer. These aspects have characterized the city since the devastating damage of World War II. With the Arctic Cultural Center (ACC) however, Hammerfest has now paved the way for a long-term improvement of the situation.

In 2004, the city advertised an international planning competition on the inner-city property of a former fish factory. The area, situated directly on the sea, is part of an ambitious urban development program aimed at giving the city center a completely new identity with new buildings for shops, offices and apartments. Due to the contemporary architectural language of the ACC, which opened in January 2009, there is no doubt that building fully corresponds to the clients’ wish for a “building with a signature effect. ” But one of the reasons that the project by Arkitekturlaboratoriet AS from Oslo (A-lab) was chosen as the winner may very well have been their design motto: “Connecting People.”

Space Allocation Plan

“The ACC will be rather like the ‘living room’ of Hammerfest, a public place which as a meeting point for visitors and users will serve a social purpose”, says Charlie Marsden, the A-lab architect responsible for the project. In this context, he refers to the rooms between the different usable areas, which above all in the cold and dark season serve as freely accessible communication area – for example, the spacious lobby, open until 11 pm, with a bar, kiosk, and information counter. The 5,000 m2 ACC is also highly frequented due to its unusually varied art collection, cultural, and conference-related facilities. The two lower ß oors consist primarily of two event- rooms linked via the central lobby, which with 150 and 350 seats are suitable for Þ lm presentations, concerts as well as for conferences. Situated above them are small multifunctional rooms, ballrooms, checkrooms, exhibition areas and a professional sound studio. In order to link the building as closely as possible with its immediate environment, an open area covered by the protruding upper ß oor can be used as an open-air stage, an area for events, or simply a weather-protected meeting point.


The ACC embodies openness and transparency not least due to the band-like double-shell glass façade enveloping the orthogonal structure. Conceived as a large mullion-transom construction with toughened safety glass (Schüco FW 50+), it consists of vertical glass fields that are attached 60 cm away from the space-enclosing concrete shell on a filigree steel substructure. The narrow space in between protects the interior rooms from physical environmental influences such as cold, wind and noise. In addition, as a climate buffer it leads to considerable energy savings. With the embossed ice crystal pattern and LED lights shining up from below, the glass shell also visually stands for the creative energy resulting from the various cultural facilities inside the building. The computer controlled standard lighting design created by the architects (in principle, the LEDs can be randomly controlled) is inspired by the Northern Lights and based on a slowly changing mixture of white, blue and green color shades. As a result, the building, which is clear and easy to read during the day, becomes a shimmering light installation at night which compellingly illustrates the importance of the ACC for Hammerfest.


Arctic Culture Center
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