Buen, Mandal Architecture, Norwegian Cultural Building, Architect, Competition, Design

Buen Mandal – Nedre Malmø

Cultural Building Norway – design by 3XN, architects

3 May 2012

Mandal Arch


Architect: 3XN

Elegance and conviviality merge under The Arch in Mandal, Norway

Historic white wooden houses, charming narrow streets, a river running though the center and beach and forest nearby. The town of Mandal is the essence of southern Norwegian idyll. Danish practice, 3XN, has designed the town’s new cultural center, a project which required great sensitivity to the town’s special environment.

Buen Mandal Architecture, Norway
photo © Adam Mørk

A House of the People

The cultural center, called “The Arch”, is about creating a common base for the cultural institutions of Mandal. Thus, The Arch contains theater, cinema, concert hall, library, gallery and café, offering activities for all ages of the town’s 15,000 inhabitants. “The Arch is a house of the people, so we designed a building that in an elegant and soft motion gathers the town’s cultural life, while the modern expression bears witness to a town in development”, explains Jan Ammundsen, Partner and Head of Design at 3XN.

Buen Mandal
photo © Adam Mørk

The modern expression is created with a deep respect for the history of the town and the surrounding landscape. The arched shape refers partly to the soft hills, located around Mandal, and partly to the industrial center, which previously was located on the site. It is planned that the building will have a green roof, which will contribute to giving the building an organic expression, and will increase integration with the surrounding nature, when looking at the Arch from one of Mandal’s popular vantage points. The white color corresponds with the old white wooden houses, which Mandal is known for and which gives the town its character.

“A Dream”

The wish for optimal use of daylight, and a building that seems open and attractive to visitors, resulted in a facade characterized by panoramic windows facing the river and city. “It is important that the building’s activities are visible, and that the building connects to all the residents. Therefore, we have also emphasized designing the south-facing outdoor areas, so they are attractive sunny, recreational spaces with views to the river. In this way the building brings value to everyone in Mandal,” says Jan Ammundsen.

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photos © Adam Mørk

According to the manager of the cultural center, Alfred Solgaard, The Arch has had no difficulties in attracting visitors: “In just the first two and a half months after we took the building into use 25,000 people visited, and that was even before the official opening”, says Alfred Solgaard, and adds, “the Arch is a dream come true for our entire community”.

Besides the design of the architecture for the cultural center 3XN have delivered the graphic design for the Arch, the area’s master plan and a bridge that will go from the cultural center and over the river. The bridge, which is under construction will, in line with the cultural center, has curved organic shapes and pitches from which the view of Norway’s southernmost town can be enjoyed in full.

Team: Architect: 3XN Architects, Denmark. Client: Halse Property, Norway. Engineer: Rambøll, Norway. Landscape: Asplan Viak, Norway. Theatre Technique: AIX architects, Sweden Art Decorations: Marianne Bratteli “Chaos and Gaia”, Norway. Building Data: Address: Havnegt. 2, 4515 Mandal, Norway. Price: approx. 33 million euros. Size: approx. 4,500 m2. Floors: 2. Construction: Concrete. Façade: Aluminum and glass. Timeline: Construction Start: December 2009. Completion: December 2011. Official opening: April 2012.

Buen Mandal images / information from 3XN Architects


Mandal, Norway

Architect: 3XN

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”Buen” (The arch) is like a green blanket that elevates and makes room for the cultural centre, and thus integrates it in the surrounding landscape.

The master plan, also conceived by 3XN, comprises a hotel integrated with the cultural centre and a number of houses for both residential and retail use around the cultural centre, adjusted in scale and proportion after the characteristic and classic Norwegian wooden houses. It focuses on making the new town area reflect the rest of Mandal on the other side of the river and ensuring that all the houses including the cultural centre will have maximal enjoyment of the short distance to the river. As the building is reflected in the river, activities in the new cultural centre reflect the cultural life of Mandal town.

The glass façade opens and expose the lobby to the river bank, and the green blanket roof provides the users of The Arch with an extra outdoor space, where they can go and bring a cup of coffee from the café underneath, or a book from the cultural centre library, and enjoy the view. Integrating the hotel with the cultural centre the design allows hotel guests easy access to the library and exhibitions in the gallery, and users of the centre may dine in the hotel restaurant.

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Whereas the cultural centre is a signifier of the area, the hotel and the surrounding housing form a coherent low-dense area referring to the scale of the town. The master plan tries to keep motoring traffic at a minimum and establish instead the narrow pathways and greens characteristic of the garden city.

Buen Mandal – Building Information

Address: Nedre Malmø, Mandal, Norge
Client: Halse Eiendom
Award: 1. prize in invited competition 2007
Budget: Dkr. 255 m / € 35 m
Area: 30.000 m2
Construction: 2010
Architect: 3XN A/S

Buen Mandal, Norway images / information from 3XN Architects 270309


Location: Nedre Malmø, Mandal, Norway

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