Norway’s wooden Wave

Norway’s wooden Wave

Kilden Performing Arts Center

Supported by modern technology, ALA-Architekten confront the cold Norwegian sea with a wave of wood.


From 2012, the Norwegian coastal town of Kristiansand has a new theater and concert hall in store. After several years of construction, the Kilden theater and concert hall will open its gates at the former industrial port of Kristiansand and welcomes its visitors with a gently curved, spectacular façade, a wave of wood. This new cultural meeting point has been desegined and planned by ALA Architekten from Helsinki.

A wasteland at the former industrial harbor has been prepared and made available as a building site for the “Kilden”. Alone the exposed location right by the shore emphasizes the importance of this new building for the Norwegian town. At the Kilden Performing Arts Center nearly all urban institutions dealing with arts and culture will find a new home.

The Kristiansand Symphony Orchestra will get a concert hall for 1,200 visitors. The local Agder theater has its new home inside a theater and concert hall for 700 visitors. This small room of Agder theater has a peculiarity in store: It can be re-arranged and adjusted to meet the requirements of the second user, Norwegian Opera South. Both institutions will show their program in turns at this hall. Additionally, apart from these two large concert halls, the building will provide space for an experimental theater and multi-functional usages. 

The wooden Wave as a free Form

The entrance to Kilden theater and concert hall can be found at the former pier, the entrance area faces the water. The first thing visitors will note of the building is its unique, exciting façade. A wooden wave of 3,500 m², 100 m wide and overhanging by 35 m, towers above the visitors’ heads with all its massive woodenness. Multiply curved, this wave presents itself in best possible free form manner. Eventually, by stepping through a glass wall built in front of it, the visitor enters the world of Kilden Art Center and thus the world of Norwegian performing arts. From the lobby you get into the performance halls and, with a respective access authorization, to the service areas in the back. The arrangement of performance halls and service areas has been designed in such a way that an uninterrupted performance can take place between service and stage. 

The constructive Problem of the wooden Curtain

The building’s basic shape resembles a simple ashlar, in all other respects the building is relatively unobtrusive. A black, modest aluminum façade covers the building from three sides. The fourth façade facing the shore presents itself as a show façade. It has a moved history of evolvement under its belt. Already at the beginning of the planning façade an exciting façade was planned for this part of the building. The entrances for the visitors and the lobby of this theater and concert hall are here, after all. But then the planning and construction of the façade turned out to be real problems. At first, it was decided to set straight steel beams in front of the concrete construction, a specially shaped and adjusted construction of steel pipes was then supposed to be attached. This construction was to hold several thin layers of wood, to which the facing of oak panels was to be attached, as designed by the architects. However, it turned out that this kind of steel pipe construction was not suitable for many reasons. The blowing curtain of wood designed by the architects had become a constructional problem.  

From Construction Detail to the Component

Finally, a feasible solution was made by the company Trebyggeriet. The too complex and hard to compile steel pipe construction was replaced by an also complex, yet controllably compiled wooden substructure. This was then to be set into the steel construction already built into the building. However, as so often, a good idea is followed by a lot of work. Only very few companies are capable of building such crooked wooden constructions, let alone plan them.

The company designtoproduction turned out to be areal winner. It joined forces with the carpenters from Blumer-Lehmann and the framework planners from SJB Kempter Fitze. With the support of a parametric 3D planning and the required expert knowledge, designtoproduction managed to plan a large part of the required element in detail until the end of January 2010. From March 2010 the assigned carpenter companies started creating the components. All in all 14,309 individually manufactured components were planned and calculated by designtoproduction for the show façade of Kilden theater and concert hall.  This was followed by producing the components at various production sites, at a shipyard in Norway, for instance, from May 2010 they were installed. Kilden’s façade, be it a wave turned to wood or a blowing wooden curtain, shows what’s possible by deploying modern planning methods. You can only guess what the future holds for architecture.


More articles on this topic:

  • Interview with Fabian Scheurer from designtoproduction about the benefits and downsides of parametric 3D planning

Article on designtoproduction

Project details


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