Ingierstrand Bathing Resort, Oslo – Color Analysis and Restauration

It happened in the 1930s when the Functionalism, as part of the Modernism, finally got popular after a long period of Classicism in Europe. 

This style of architecture stresses the value of function over form and also emphasizes the belief in progress, science and modernity. LeCorbusier is viewed as the inspiration for functionalist ideas in Norway. The importance of light, fresh air and nature was emphasized, a notion that permeates Norwegian architectural philosophy to the present day.

In the 1920s and 1930s, recreation as well as sports were highly popular in Norway. Before establishing public swimming pools, many Norwegians bathed in the fjords on wild beaches and seaside resorts, which some were segregated behind self-made canvas curtains. The first public baths in Norway were mostly financed and operated by wealthy private individuals. The new swimming pools, in contrast to the wild bathing facilities, should offer a clean bath preferred for several hygienic and health aspects.  

Eyvind Moestue and Ole Lind Schistaad reinterpreted the Norwegian sense for nature in the charming recreational facility Ingierstrand in 1933. 

Ingierstrand Bathing Resort, photograph of the 1930s

The area was previously used as a wild seaside resort before the wealthy family Ingier took up the idea of ​​building a public lido, which is still in use today. The construction of Ingierstrandbad was designed to meet the needs of the Norwegian population. According to ideas of the time, new open-air swimming pools should offer much more than ordinary free bathing beaches. 

swimmers in the past and present

Ingierstrand appears very colorful in its surrounding, which is a typical characteristic for Norwegian architecture. It is not solely bound to a period of time or place and is realized in the inner and outer appearance – from coast houses to town halls and from the medieval age till today. 

The color that homeowners would choose to paint their houses depended on their geographic location, profession and financial situation. 

Red, the cheapest color to produce, was made using copper or blood and oil from fish and other animals. This resource was for most of the Norwegian people, who worked mainly as farmers and fishermen, easy to access. Yellow paint was slightly more expensive, and was made with ochre and oil.  White was the classiest color of all.  In order to make white paint, you needed zinc, which was quite expensive. This way the homeowners showed their neighbors a higher level of wealth.

coastel houses in Bergen, 1700

The entire complex was built in style of Functionalism. According to ideas of Moestue and Schistaad, the bath resort was intended to represent modern times, as did similar bathing establishments by other architects like Hvalstrand in Asker and Sundøya at Tyrifjord.

Characteristics of Functionalism are large and open floor spaces, a concrete skeleton as an ordering structure, relationships to the terrain as well as Modernism’s forms – geometric volumes, a flat roof and continuous strip windows. 

The vivid colors are an eye-catcher, especially the sun blinds at the terraces and the big red round-shaped dancing floor on a mushroom construction right in front of it, which is painted bright red.

outside area with colorful sunblindes and red dancingfloor

floorplan with colors on the upper terrace and dancing floor

Hence it was something representative, that Oslo has to offer. Ingierstrand was strongly supported by the council by offering a ferry connection to the bathing resort. Norwegian people start to be proud what the Fjord has to offer besides the industrial use. Strong colors, also used in postcards, were used to attract people to visit the new recreation facility.

postcard of the 1930s

The outdoor facilities and buildings of Ingierstrand had been restored several times. Especially the slim concrete structure of the restaurant building had suffered from weather conditions and almost fell apart in 2010. The idea of the office Arkitektskap AS was to restore the restaurant to its state when it was new in 1934; with original materials and colors.

Tracking the original colors was one of their biggest aims. In order to reconstruct the original color descriptions of Moestue and Schistaad they researched in the archive of the Museum of Architecture in Oslo and used old photographs. Adding to this research a color analysis has been made for the most important parts of the building. The analysis was been made by Niels Gerhard Johansen, the painter of the Norsk Folkemuseum, Anne Milnes, a painting conservator of NKF-N, and Jon Brænne, employed at the NIKU, Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research.

The result of the color analysis by the three specialists, was put together to a total of 52 colors according to the NCS-System.  

color palette

The dining room is the biggest room at the Ingierstrand bathing resort and the best example of what has been restored and changed in the progress according to the colors. The room has a rectangular shape and a glass facade towards the fjord with a stunning view. Visitors can walk out on the upper terrace, but should also have inside the feeling of being outside. 

original illustration and photo at present

There are parts of the ceiling covered with lamellae; above the tables at the window front and above the dance floor in the middle of the room. The other parts of the ceiling are covered with panels of 4 very warm and rich colors. These characteristic colors, are arranged in a pattern of different sized rectangles. 

ceiling of the restaurant

By touching the black painted wall in the back, the contrast let them appear even stronger. A niche in the black wall in the back was covered with gold; now it has changed to a light brown color. All other walls in the room are painted white. Between the lamellae the ceiling is painted in two different shades of a cold and greyish blue.

The colors of the room frame the view towards the sea and the trees. Natural colors are usually harmonious and match well. Moestue and Schistaad used complementary colors to stand in contrast with the landscape. That gives the building a strong presence in its surrounding and a even more glamorous appearance after transforming the wild bathing in something modern and new.

view from the terrace

Ingierstrand bathing resort is considered as a leading example of architecture, being restored with its original and very typical colors. It brings back the sense of nature, charm and character of a building which stands for the modern times of the 1930s. Facilities for wild bathing could be seen as formalising leisure along the coast of Norway. This leads to the current situation, which sees most of the southern coastline dedicated to leisure and tourism.

 

information:

Nightlands: Nordic Building – Christian Norberg-Schulz, p. 155-157

Nordic Modernism: Scandinavian Architecture 1890-2017 – William C Miller

Restauering og rehabilitering, Ingierstrand – Jan-Egil Claussen, Mur+betong AS 2013 nr 2, p. 20-27

Ingierstrandbad – Hovedrestaurant, Rapport – Arkitektskap AS, Arkitektens fargeanbefalinger, 2012

http://ncscolour.com/about-us/how-the-ncs-system-works/

images:

selfproduced graphics

archive of the Norsk Arkitekturmuseum

www.ingierstrandbad.no

www.samling.nasjonalmuseet.no

www.tovelauluten.no/ingierstrand-bad-restaurant