Housing music: the Rockheim building

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Norwegian practice Pir II are the architects behind Rockheim. The project, completed in 2009, saw a listed industrial building – a disused  flour warehouse from 1920 – turned into a vibrant exhibition centre for Norwegian rock and pop. Far from being a staid and static museum, the venue focuses on interactive events, hosting everything from gigs to guitar lessons, tutorials in mixing hip-hop loops, and dress-up karaoke sessions.

Rockheim, Brattøra (Photo: Rockheim/Geir Mogen)

The building has a stunning impact on the Trondheim harbour skyline. Architecturally, the old warehouse facade has been kept intact, although major structural changes have been made to the interior. The big crowd-pleaser, however, is the spectacular display-box that sits on top of the existing building.

The stark contrast between the prosaic, utilitarian concrete facade and the LED-lit, colour-changing ‘roof-box’ is a bold and brash statement – and it works. The plans were initially met with some controversy and suspicion in the local community, as one would expect. Now that the project is completed, it lends a strong visual  identity to what used to be a dull, sprawling and formless part of town. From what I hear, the locals love it.

The ever-changing LED roof display box (Photo: Rockheim/Kriss Stemland)

Based on album covers from the 1950s onwards, the roof-box display uses data technology and LED lighting to change expression, colour and intensity. The effect is one of fluidity teamed with the solid, straight-lined mass of the remaining structure. The display box is raised from the main building, making space for a planned roof garden. Attached to the side of the existing warehouse building is another box structure, three-storey high and soberly clad, which houses the main stage and auditorium.

View of the harbour and fjord (Photo: Rockheim/Geir Mogen)

The contrast between old and new is carried through to the interior, where visitors move from the closed space of the roof box, via the open vistas of the café area, to the labyrinthine rooms and passages of the warehouse structure. Outside, clever hard and soft landscaping creates a generous, urban space for skateboarding, playing or just sitting around taking in the harbour views.

Echoes of the building's industrial heritage (Photo: Rockheim/Geir Mogen)

For more information on the project, exhibitions and events, you can contact @Rockheim on Twitter.

The LED displays change the building's expression (Photo: Rockheim/Geir Mogen)

The glass-clad café sits between the top box and the original building (Photo: Rockheim/Geir Mogen)

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One Response to “Housing music: the Rockheim building”

  1. gazex Says:

    fantastic images

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