The Twist: This Nordic Art Gallery Is a Surreal Architectural Sculpture

by editor

This architectural marvel is like having a conversation with nature.

Kistefos Sculpture Park at Jevnaker in southern Norway is an art gallery and sculpture park in one. Set up by collector Christen Sveaas in 1996, it’s now the largest sculpture park in Scandinavia.

The works of Anish Kapoor and Marc Quinn had been exhibited over the years. Now they’ve invited BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group, known for breaking architectural norms, to build an extraordinarily imaginative twisted art gallery on the river, aptly named The Twist. The novel design connects the river banks and bridges both art and nature.

The Twist, encompassing 10,800 square feet and BIG’s first project in Norway, was built around an ancient pulp plant. The white art gallery is twisted by 90 degrees in the middle. It stretches across the Randselva River like a sculpture and stands out in the verdant setting.

Since its opening, The Twist has made it much easier for visitors to explore art pieces dotting either side of the river. It is the second bridge in the park and provides twice as much indoor space at the park.

The Twist has two distinctive exhibition areas: one a relatively hidden vertical art gallery, the other a more open horizontal gallery with floor-to-ceiling glass windows offering expansive river views. Where the two exhibition space meet in the twisted middle is the third space. The unusual shape gives artists room to explore possibilities, and up- and-coming artists Howard Hodgkin and Martin Creed are plumbing its potential.

While the structure of The Twist is complex, its outlook is simple and sharp, in tune with the spectacular nature. Up close, the art gallery reflects the scenic greenery, hills and river. The vista is sparkling and ever-changing, and it’s like having a conversation with nature when looking at it.

The simple twist seamlessly connects the lower end at the south bank with the higher end of the north bank. The curved structure is constructed by stacking 40cm-wide vertical aluminum plates like books. The angle of each plate is altered ever so slightly to form a fan.

The interior is paved with vertical white fir blocks for flooring. The wall and ceiling are in a single tone, as seen in most art galleries. While walking through the twisted gallery, from whichever end, visitors will feel like passing through a camera shutter.

At the northern end of the gallery, one can see the breathtaking views of the pulp plant and the river bank through the glass wall. The wall curls upwards to create a 25cm slit for sunlight to flood in. The different angles of the curved wall let in sunlight in different directions to define the unique character of each exhibition space.

The northern gallery is spacious and light, connecting with the river views; the southern gallery boasts high ceilings and is dimly lit; the sculpture gallery in the middle has natural light diffused through the spiral ceiling. The lighting and layout accord greater flexibility for Kistefos’s exhibition planning, not to mention a memorable tour to a Norwegian forest.

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