Building Study: The Twist, Norway, by BIG

The Twist by Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) at the Kistefos Sculpture Park in Jevnaker, Norway

Source: Laurian-Ghinitoiu / Kistefos Museum / BIG

Bjarke Ingels’ new art gallery over a river might have the whiff of gimmickry but Ike Ijeh finds himself beguiled

Inhabited bridges have always captured the popular imagination. London Bridge is Falling Down did not become arguably the most famous nursery rhyme in the world because of the utterly forgettable motorway flyover that masquerades in its place today but because of the illusory and fantastical elongated medieval township that spanned the Thames for over six centuries. Equally, from Ponte Vecchio to Rialto Bridge to Tower Bridge, some of the world’s most famous bridges are those that provide accommodation as well as circulation.

And so is the case with the latest project from Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), the practice’s first in Norway. Located in Kistefos Sculpture Park in Jevnaker, about 40 miles north-east of Oslo, the Twist is a new inhabited bridge that provides a new 1,000sq m art gallery for Europe’s largest sculpture park. Officially opened by the Norwegian queen last week, the glass- and aluminium-clad bridge spans the winding Randselva river and, like the sculpture park itself, is set in acres of picturesque riverside woodland. Nestling among the trees nearby stands the converted pump mill building of 1889 which previously housed Kistefos’ interior collection.

An art gallery spanning a river might seem like a rather romantic and whimsical notion but in architectural and engineering terms it is not in and of itself particularly ground breaking. From a strictly functional perspective, for much of its meandering extent Florence’s iconic Vasari Corridor has been doing what the Twist now does for 444 years – or at least it will when it reopens to the public in 2021.

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