Statoil Headquarters: a monument of capitalism and constructivism | The Plan
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Statoil Headquarters: a monument of capitalism and constructivism

a-lab

Statoil Headquarters: a monument of capitalism and constructivism
By Michael Webb -

The most ambitious new project in Oslo is the office complex of Statoil, the state energy company, which is headquartered in the port city of Stavanger. Designed by a-lab, a firm that made an important contribution to Barcode, Statoil is the latest addition to Fornebu, the site of Oslo’s airport until 1998. A corporation is redeveloping the zone as a waterfront park, with attractively landscaped apartments and IT offices. One of the first arrivals was Telenor, the leading phone company. Statoil lease their building but it was designed to their specifications, and assembled in under 20 months with help of prefabricated elements.
Five three-story lamellas are stacked at angles to form a nine-story complex of interlocking units for 2500 employees. The goal was to stay within the 10,000-square-meter footprint of the former parking structure, which is now below grade. The exterior is faced with white enameled aluminum panels on a 3-meter grid, and service entries are buried so that there is no rear side. Two 30-meter cantilevered wings flank the main entry, and Swiss artist Pipilotti Rist created videos that play continuously on their undersides. This monument to global capitalism evokes an oil rig but it is also a masterpiece of Constructivism, which Soviet architects might have imagined in the 1920s but were unable to build.
The interior is laid out on a 3 square meter grid, within a structural grid of 6 meters. Escape stairs and services are housed in four concrete cores that stabilize the steel superstructure. The 65,000 square meters of uniform offices lead out of central atrium at each level, which is shaped by closed office wings (each with 500 people) as though it were a quadrangle with a diagonal cutting across. The inner facades are faced in perforated aluminum to absorb sound. A prismatic glass roof for the central atrium that evokes a giant soap bubble creates a dynamic space, and it required careful engineering and reinforcement with...

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