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Student designed climate change research center in Norway

Dobrawa Bies
25 of January '23

The {tag:studenci} from the Technical University of Lodz, worried about progressive climate change, designed the Center for Climate Change Research in Norway. The stepped building, located in the slope of the Aurlandsfjord fjord , consists of seven floors designed for, among other things, methane emissions research, long-term research projects, knowledge exchange, as well as education of tourists visiting the center.

The project „Climate Change Research Center in Norway” was developed as a master's thesis under the direction of Dr. Katarzyna Bernatek-Bączyk at the Faculty of Construction, Architecture and Environmental Engineering at the Technical University of Lodz.

Centrum badań położone jest przy fiordzie Aurlandsfjord

The research center is located at the Aurlandsfjord fjord

Photo surroundings: Gemileg © Agnieszka Hoja-Jurewicz

methane and climate change

The author chose the Norwegian town of Aurlandsvangen, located near the tourist town of Flåm, as the location for the Research & Development building dealing with climate change issues. The designed building was placed on a section of the fjord, at a viewpoint. The point is located on one of the most famous scenic routes with outstanding views — the Nasjonal Turistveg Aurlandsfjellet — Scenic Route.

Projekt Centrum badań, otoczenie

Research center project, surroundings

© Agnieszka Hoja-Jurewicz

In the face of the global climate crisis, measures are being taken to combat progressive climate change, the consequences of which are processes such as gradual loss of biodiversity, more frequent forest fires, declining agricultural yields, and rising temperatures. My main reason for locating the Center at Aurlandsfjord is to create a facility dedicated to detecting and estimating methane emissions. Based on data published in Limnology and Oceanography Letters , total methane emissions from the fjords (which occupy only 0.13% of the ocean surface) correspond to an emission value equal to all deep-sea areas in the world (accounting for as much as 84%). It is estimated that this gas is responsible for about 30% of the greenhouse effect.1 Methane is formed on the bottoms of fjords due to the presence of anaerobic areas — where carbon-rich material — plant and animal remains — decompose. The projected Center, thanks to access to research material and the possibility of conducting field research, creates conditions for an international dialogue on modeling and prevention of the negative effects of climate change, the project's author explains.

Oświetlenie na elewacji kompleksu tworzy akcenty

Lighting on the facade of the complex creates accents

photo of surroundings: Artur Mocior © Agnieszka Hoja-Jurewicz

stepped building

The architect proposed the center's building in a stepped form — which was influenced by the terrain, as well as the desire to inscribe the complex into the natural landscape. The roofs have been covered with earth, and the seven floors are connected by overlapping common parts in the form of foyers and connectors. The rectangular masses, some of which are hidden in the slope, have been illuminated by numerous light wells in the form of ribbon skylights and geodesic domes, as well as designed interstory voids. Visually distinctive elements are the cylindrical forms: the terrace above the restaurant and the technology hall, with a heliport located on the roof.

Projekt Centrum badań, rzut poziomu 0

design of the Research Center, projection of level 0

© Agnieszka Hoja-Jurewicz

Due to the stepped architectural form, an important aspect for the designer was to increase the number of entrances to the building from different levels of the site. The highest located entrance is accessible via a path leading to the viewpoint. The access road, which takes the form of a ramp, ends with a multi-story underground parking lot. The author also designed „gutters” — outdoor corridors made of reinforced concrete, which can be used to exit directly to the meadow surrounding thebuilding.

Rynna z żelbetu prowadzi do wejścia

A gutter made of reinforced concrete leads to the entrance

photo of surroundings: Michal Tyrkiel © Agnieszka Hoja-Jurewicz

I also wanted to combine architecture and nature. Some of the walls inside the building are formed by native rock. In addition, the green roofs compensate for the loss of native flora, creating extensive usable-view terraces and are an integral part of the common spaces," the author adds.

Projekt Centrum badań, elewacja w ciągu dnia i w nocy

Research Center project, façade during the day and at night

© Agnieszka Hoja-Jurewicz

The facades of the building were made mainly of glass panes, rhythmized by divisions — muntins in the form of steel mullions located inside the building. In contrast, solid planes, defined by massive reinforced concrete walls with visible formwork, are a contrast to the glass strips. Referring to the cylindrical forms of the plan and the domed forms of the skylights
glass skylights, the author has introduced circular windows in places. To increase the sense of non-figurative spatial composition, some of the facade elements were illuminated, creating bright accents suspended in space.

Projekt Centrum badań nad zmianami klimatu, wnętrze restauracji

interior of the restaurant

photo of surroundings: Michal Tyrkiel © Agnieszka Hoja-Jurewicz

a place for scientists and public

The project envisages separating areas open to the public for visitors, as well as those dedicated exclusively to academics for intensive work. The numerous common spaces, on the other hand, serve to integrate research workers and provide a place to exchange knowledge and experience.

Centrum badań w Norwegii, PZT Centrum pokrywają płaskie zielone dachy

The complex is covered with green roofs

photo surroundings: Michal Tyrkiel © Agnieszka Hoja-Jurewicz

The complex assumes the possibility of long-term research projects, carried out by a permanent team of scientists — in the development area are located residence cottages, designed on the model of traditional Norwegian architecture. The utility program includes a number of functions to improve the operation of the complex, such as a representative, recreational, conference, research and accommodation part in the form of hotel rooms.

Projekt Centrum badań, rzut poziomu -5, przekrój A-A

plan of level -5, cross-section A-A

© Agnieszka Hoja-Jurewicz

From the entrance level there is a tourist zone — dedicated to visitors. This part is fully accessible — it serves to popularize the results of the research conducted at the center, as well as to educate about the prevention of climate change. The foyer is an empty space running through four floors, and this is also where art installations can be located.

The research wing, which is the largest usable area of the building, is located on levels -3 to -6. To add variety, the designer introduced a slide connecting the different levels.

pro-ecological solutions

Agnieszka Hoja-Jurewicz placed great emphasis on the self-sufficiency of the infrastructure service — she proposed a system of water accumulation and recovery, renewable energy acquisition and an individual interior ventilation system.

Skrzydło konferencyjne, naturalny kamień na ścianie

Conference wing, natural stone on the wall

© Agnieszka Hoja-Jurewicz

The complex is supplied with water from two nearby mountain streams. Water is also obtained from rainfall and is retained and recovered. To minimize the use of coolers in the foyer area of the conference part, a system of gutters with adjustable drains is used. By accumulating water and providing air exchange, natural air circulation is introduced and humidity levels are optimized. In addition, wet rock, which maintains humidity thanks to the system of opening emergency drains used, cools the conference space.

Most of the roofs are green, while above the restaurant area the architect used white flat roofs to reflect the sun's rays and prevent the building from overheating.

Budynek składa się z siedmiu kondygnacji

The building is constructed with a floor structure

photo of surroundings: Michal Tyrkiel © Agnieszka Hoja-Jurewicz

Energy acquisition is achieved through the use of solar glass — the glass panels not only generate energy and provide thermal insulation, but also filter ultraviolet and infrared radiation.


1 Wernicki P.(PAP), Scandinavia's symbol also emits methane. More than all ocean depths, source: https://forsal.pl/biznes/ekologia/artykuly/8435565,fiordy-emituja-metan.html

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