February 22nd 2019

"The New National Museum is important for Norway’s Stone Industry"

The new National Museum is under construction and is scheduled to open its doors to the public in 2020. This photo is from the winter of 2018. Photo: Ken Opprann/Statsbygg.
"It is important to use Norwegian stone", says Statsbygg. The Norwegian governmental agency which serves to manage and develop state-owned property, like the museum. Oppdal Sten stone quarry will supply the schist for the new National Museum in Oslo. Petter Bye, the quarry’s managing director, explains that the task of delivering schist to the new National Museum has been a boost for their company.

"It's important to our entire industry, and especially us. This is our biggest project ever. As a result of this contract, we have begun to use wire saw to cut the blocks from the quarry. The largest blocks are sent to Germany for processing", says Petter Bye. 

To date, the German company Hofmann Naturstein Inc. has received 416 loads of blocks that has been processed for use on the façade of the museum. Oppdal Sten is also responsible for producing the schist for a 5800 m2 roof terrace.

"To produce the schist for roof, we purchased a new saw and a calibration machine to set the thickness of each slab. A large amount of water must be used to cool the blades on these new machines, so we invested in a water recycling facility. There have been challenges, but we expect the museum to serve as a good reference project for our company. Already, news is spreading. European stone dealers and manufacturers we meet abroad have expressed their curiosity about this project", says Bye.

"Evidence of past geological events revealed"

- I skiferblokkene kan vi se hvordan bergarten en gang ble dannet ved sammenpressing av berget dypt nede i jorda. Det lyse laget på bildet var en gang tykt og sammenhengende, men er blitt fortynnet og smurt utover. Nesten som en deig, beskriver NGUs geolog. Foto: Tom Heldal/NGU.
"We see evidence that this rock underwent compaction and deformation deep in the earth. The lighter layer above was once thick and continuous, but under pressure and over time it has smeared and thinned, almost like a dough", describes NGU’s expert on natural stone. Photo: Tom Heldal/NGU.

Tom Heldal, senior researcher from NGU, is one of the leading expert of Norways natural stones. He is keenly interested in the construction of the new National Museum. 

"It was great to hear that they chose a schist façade for the new National Museum. Schist is most often used for pathways or roofs, but not for the exterior of these kinds of buildings. This will make the building unique. We geologists are particularly enthusiastic to view the schist to find traces of processes that occurred in deep earth many millions of years ago". 

Bringing the mountain experience into the city

Her legger det plater på taket. Foto: Ken Opprann/Statsbygg.
Working on the roof in fall 2018. Photo: Ken Opprann/Statsbygg (2018).

Statsbygg is overseeing the construction of the National Museum. The project communications manager conveys the architect’s vision for this building.

"The new museum’s architect, Klaus Schuwerk, recognized that mountain hiking is a big part of Norwegian culture. So he wanted to use familiar construction materials from nature. Bringing symbols of the Norwegian mountain to a building in a city, which opens to the sea, is a way to express the Norwegian cultural identity through architecture. Although a German architect won the competition to design the new building, we are fortunate that they found the stone he needed in Norway. We are using Oppdal Mørk Golan schist, which is robust and durable. The schist is also so tough that the stone processing firm, Hofmann Naturstein Inc., had to buy new equipment to get it cut", says Birgitte Bye. 

How do you think the public will react once the museum is finished?

"Some people have criticized the building for being too heavy. The same was said when Italian marble was used for the Opera House in Oslo. Their response may be because the area is still primarily a construction site and it is difficult to come close enough to get a full view".

One of our researchers, Tom Heldal, is thrilled just after a brief tour.

"Haha.That's good. I also think that many people will change their mind when they are able to view the structure closer and get to see how it looks inside. We also use schist on the walls facing the public courtyard. Schist is combined with marble, bronze, limestone and light oak. It will look really great".

If all goes according to plan, the new National Museum will open its doors to the public in 2020, so that everyone can finally admire the building, from the inside and out. 

For more pictures of the entire construction process, go to Statsbygg website.

Modell av det ferdige Nasjonalmuseet. Foto: Trond Isaksen/Statsbygg.
A complete model of the new national museum. Photo: Trond Isaksen/Statsbygg.