Lund + Slaatto Arkitekter. Chateau Neuf – His Majesty the Golden Pig

Untitled-1Chateau Neuf (Norwegian Student’s Union House in Oslo) is a building in Majorstuen, Oslo, designed by architects Kjell Lund and Nils Slaatto (Lund + Slaatto Arkitekter). The project was commissioned by the The Norwegian Student Society, which had been actively collecting money for a new student building since 1918, when they sold the old student building because it became too small. Fundraising was interrupted by the 1st and the 2nd World War, only to begin again in the 1950s. The first sketches for this building date back to 1962, but the project was finished 9 years later, in the autumn of 1971, only to be officially opened in 1973.

The building is a main work of the “brutalist” period in Norwegian architecture, a strong cubic form which contains the main auditorium and organizes all secondary functions along two basic principles: the square grid and the diagonal. The building has a floor area of 9 500 square meters. The largest room is a hall (The Great Hall), seating 1 400 people which was primarily designed for lectures or discussion meetings though it is also equipped for theatre performances, dances, ballets and orchestra concerts. The steel structure of the roof, the ventilation ducts and light fittings are open and visible as a vital contribution to the architectural expression of the room. The stage floor can be raised and lowered, and a steel structure is suspended above the circular stage, with the purpose of carrying projectors and stage properties. The restaurant and its furniture have been designed by interior designer Bjørn A. Larsen who was also responsible for furnishing other parts of the building. The materials include unpainted concrete, glass, bricks, bare ventilation ducts and galvanized iron structures. The doors are varnished in clear and strong colors. The architects have tried to activate the architectural expression in keeping with desire to make this building a workshop for the many variegated activities of the students.

plans sectionsChateau Neuf was intended as a “palace” for social debates and academic discussions, and the building was designed with that in mind. However, this was never fully realized. In order to build this project The Norwegian Student Society undertook a large debt which led to immediate rental of The Great Hall for commercial use. This didn’t improve the economy as much as it was needed, and after renting out premises on the 3rd and 4th floor, Chateau Neuf was eventually sold to the University of Oslo, with the agreement that the building is still managed by the Norwegian Students Society.

The building has recently been reworked and renovated by the same architects that designed it. The work involved careful programming as well as detailed redesign of the main public areas on ground floor and basement. The architects have aimed to  accommodate new solutions as well, all within the strict structure of the building.