Sentralen’s architecture

Sentralen’s architecture

Atelier Oslo and Kima Arkitektur are the architect firms behind Sentralen and the transformation from a bank- and office building to the house for cultural production and social innovation that it is today. The two firms have various experience through the years with both large and small projects.

Working with Sentralen, the architects were particularly devoted to
emphasize the buildings’ original qualities and exploit these in the
best possible way. It was an exciting process to figure out what the
different qualities could be preserved as and what was revealed under
layers after layers of carpets, gypsum and ceilings. A large amount of
containers with fragments was removed throughout the process. Several
structural changes had to be made in order to protect the facade and
original interior, so that the former bank seemed more open and inviting
towards its future visitors of cultural experiences foremost. Since the
two separate, old buildings were not constructed to function together,
one of the biggest challenges were to connect these as a unified
building. A brand new entrance was built facing Øvre Slottsgate, as well
as new elevators and staircases. All to connect the building in a more
functional matter, where the different rooms and venues became more
accessible for the guests. The former backyard in between the two
buildings was transformed into what we now call “The Winter Garden”,
which functions as a natural gathering point for our visitors and

User groups

Groups containing of 6-8 people were formed to discuss, process and
analyze various areas of the building. The tasks revolved around
technical solutions, jobs, hospitality and facilitation of culture.
People with certain expertise within the areas mentioned were invited to
ensure the best possible functionality through meetings. A thorough
analysis of the building’s characteristics and possibilities were done
before the development of rooms and programs began with the builders.


In order to achieve a good workflow throughout the process, where all
participants of the project could be involved in the most efficient
way, a large model of the building was made. With this model, different
solutions for circulation of the audience and visitors could be tested
and interior design could be thoroughly discussed. The model gave us
good insight in how the different rooms could be used and how they would
affect each other.

Future flexibility

When it comes to the resident’s office space, the number of working
stations can be adjusted easily. The technical equipment in the
different rooms is attached to the roof and can also be adjusted easily
after the organizers’ wishes. The point of this flexible setup is to be
able to make changes over time, and from the one organizer to the

Cultural heritage, protection and transformation

The buildings have a very high protection value. Early in the
process, a good dialogue with the city’s Cultural Heritage Management
Office of Oslo was established. This way various advantages and
disadvantages were highlighted, both from an architectural and an
antiquarian point of view. This created a very positive relationship,
where all parties were pleased with the final result, even when we came
upon surprising interventions and solutions.

Universal accessibility

In order to create the most inviting and accessible building, great
emphasis has been placed on good solutions for universal accessibility.
The new circulation is organized so that all users use the same access
and circulate the same way around. In addition, it is emphasized that
stepless accesses, contrast colors and custom lighting are integrated
naturally in the project.