Ålesund Rådhus, Norway

Sverke Mogstad of West Plan AS
Date Built
circa 1980
Keiser Wilhelms gate
The Ålesund Rådhus is made up of an 11-storey tower block and a 4-storey low-rise section both of which form an L-shape and thereby create a public square.  The building has been problematic at every stage from its inception to the present day.  People opposed its construction, and since it became a reality, there have been ongoing calls for its demolition.  The building you see in 2014 is quite different from the original (see below) because along the way the facades of both elements have been altered dramatically.  The addition of glass facades, circa 201,  and the removal of some of the original brutalist concrete has softened its appearance but has done little to affect the criticism.  The removal of the concrete elements of the facade was actually not done to address the aesthetic concerns, it was to address the fact that salt was corroding the reinforcing steel causing it to expand and crumble the concrete.  Concrete pieces were falling off the building.

(The image above is shown here under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. the details of which can be seen by clicking on the image)

The problems with the Rådhus project began with the site.  In order to place the building on this site the city had to first demolish the Rønneberg villa and the hill on top which it sat.  The demolition of the hill meant that a significant colony of sea birds were displaced and forced to find new roosts in the city.

The whole purpose of the building was to consolidate in one place the administrative business of the city and surrounding area.  This required a substantial building but many people objected to such a large, and in their view, graceless building being added to a community gaining notoriety for its beautiful Art Nouveau architecture. 

A newspaper article published in 2010 on the smp.no website featured an interview with the principal architect.  The translation of that interview into English wasn't completely intelligible but it appeared to say that so intense was the criticism about the building that for a while the architect considered moving his family away from Ålesund.

In addition to the administrative offices, the building also contains Ålesund Public Library, a Post Office and the Kremmergaarden Shopping Mall.

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