Kistefos Museum ”The twist”: Innovative approach in sculptural museum building


Lars Olaf Møller-Hansen

Lars Olaf Møller-Hansen

Structural engineer
T: +45 5161 7083
Carsten Bech

Carsten Bech

Senior Chief Consultant
T: +45 5161 2451
Jonas Chr. Primdahl

Jonas Chr. Primdahl

Architectural Technologist, Aarhus
T: +45 5161 2478
Niels Tornsberg

Niels Tornsberg

Head of Department for Structural Engineering
T: +45 5161 7694

As the main consultant of the turnkey contractor, Ramboll has overseen the detailed project engineering of the Kistefos Museum. A close collaboration between Ramboll’s engineers, architects and architectural technologists internally, as well as with BIG and the turnkey contractor, Bladt, has rendered the project possible.

Kistefos Sculpture Park is located in the Southern part of Norway approximately 40 kilometres north of Oslo. Here, the river, Randselva, cuts through the hilly landscape of the park. The river rises in the Randsfjorden and was dammed at Kistefos, where the water power was used to operate a wood mill and power plant, which since then has become an industry and art museum as well as a sculpture park.

Inaugurated by Queen Sonja

Now, the park has been given a new spectacular museum bridge which spans 60 meters across the Randselva. The building was inaugurated in September 2019 by Queen Sonja of Norway, and it will add to the creations of the park as a sculpture in itself.

The building twists 90 degrees over its span across the river, hence the name The Twist, and it gathers the sculpture park in a harmonic loop with a low-lying woodland on the Southern side, as well as an elevated and more hilly area on the northern side. With its raw and minimalistic expression, the building adapts to the landscape and becomes a natural and integrated part of the existing sculpture park. The location and unique form offer the park’s visitors an impressing bridge which leads from one scenery to another.

As the client consultant, BIG Architects are behind the design of the 999 m2 sculptural building. BIG has been working in close cooperation with Ramboll’s architects and engineers on the detailed project during both the bidding and execution phases.

Ramboll has been acting as the main consultant for the turnkey contractor, and the job has drawn on Ramboll’s competencies within engineering, architecture and architectural technology in Denmark, Norway, UK, and India. Without the close interaction across various disciplines in the integrated design processes, facilitated by a detailed 3D-model, the process and cooperation, internally as well as with BIG and the turnkey contractor, Bladt, would not have been successful. With a mutual understanding of the task at hand, the buildability has been secured while the architectural intentions have been maintained.

Strong construction with less steel

In the turnkey contractor’s bidding process, the cantilever was shortened by 3 modules saving approximately 15% of the steel quantity. Simultaneously, Ramboll optimised the weight of the construction saving about an additional 35% of the quantity of steel. Ramboll’s optimisation included adding bracings to make the bridge into a truss girder, as well as optimisation of the section and detail design. 

Ramboll produced a 3D Tekla-model for the structure. The bearing steel and concrete structures were fully detailed in the 3D Tekla-model, after which bill of materials, welding lists, rebar shape lists, part drawings, assembly drawings, reinforcement drawings, NC cutting files and general assembly drawings could be extracted directly from the same model. Thus, time of transference to other model owners could be eliminated, the contractor’s coordination task as well as the risk of error were minimised. 

Ramboll has designed the electrical, plumbing, and ventilation systems in close collaboration with the turnkey contractor’s subcontractors.

Early in the process, the decision was made to create an overpressure under the floor and an underpressure above the roof to avoid visible supply air diffusers and exhausts. Thereby, it was possible to utilise the highly limited space for other installations. Ramboll had a special focus on the lighting in the basement to ensure its implementation in the ceiling after careful coordination with the electrical contractor. Furthermore, the technical installations must have inserted tolerances, as the structure above gives large movements due to wind, snow and people load.

Optimisation of buildability

Ramboll has been the detailing architect on the museum building throughout the execution phase. Ramboll’s architectural technologists have optimised the buildability of the project and achieved cost savings through reprocessing complex solutions in close cooperation with the turnkey contractor, Bladt, and BIG. In this way, it was possible to both reduce the total construction costs while maintaining BIG’s design intentions. 

Ramboll’s architects has brought focus on altering the comprehensive technical solutions into static and mechanic functional solutions which do not impact the visual design.

In particular, the “twist” in the middle of the building has made the project challenging as the ‘twist’ has resulted in the interior cladding to require a particularly high degree of coordination. Therefore, following a 3D scan, a special model for the wooden beams had to be developed which were to control the position for all wooden fillets. In the model, all the wooden beams were numbered with a unique ID, NC cutting files were exported, and finally sent to be carved by a CNC cutting machine which included the ID for the contractors to mount them correctly according to Ramboll’s general assembly drawings. Hereafter, the wooden fillets were mounted carefully onto the wooden beams.


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