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RMIG Finishes Oslo Opera House With Artist Designed Aluminium Cladding

Oslo’s award winning Opera House has been finished with more than 9 square kilometres of aluminium cladding, incorporating a complex pattern of concave and convex forms, which was manufactured by the RMIG Group and developed in collaboration with two Norwegian artists.

Winner of the ‘culture’ category at the inaugural World Architecture Festival in 2008 and the Mies van der Rohe award for contemporary European architecture in 2009, the striking 38,500 m2 building sits on the banks of the Oslo fjord and was designed by innovative local architects Snøhetta. The contract was awarded as a result of an international design competition, where Snøhetta’s avant garde, angular exterior design, which incorporates a shallow sweeping marble ramp from the roof level down to the water’s edge, was a key factor in beating off competition from more than 300 other entries.

A key element in the architect’s vision for the building was to involve a range of work and input from Scandinavian artists and sculptors to reflect Norway’s culture and heritage within the fabric of the building’s exterior and interior design. As part of this approach, artists Astrid Løvaas and Kirsten Wagle created a unique design for the building’s cladding, which uses a complex array of convex domes and conical indentations to represent a particular pattern used in traditional Norwegian weaving techniques.

Initially, the artists approached RMIG Norway for technical input into the manufacture of the aluminium panels, who in turn involved RMIG’s engineers in Denmark to develop a production solution as innovative as the pattern’s design. The key issue that had to be overcome was to ensure that the patterns on the eight individual panel designs could be produced accurately, quickly and with total repeatability to maintained the overall design integrity and enable the project to be produced economically.

To achieve this, RMIG designed a special tool with a multiple flexible punching system, allowing both concave and convex forms to be produced simultaneously in a single pass. Every pattern configuration was then programmed into the 200 Tonne, RMIG designed P40 press, which produced the designs on to a continuous roll of 3.0 mm thick aluminium before being cut to size and white anodised for protection from the, often harsh, Norwegian climate.

Aluminium was chosen primarily due to its aesthetics, longevity, malleability and the possibility of making very flat, stress-free panels. The RMIG team also assisted in developing a suitable fixing method on site, which involved the installation of a strong, but low profile framework onto which each individual panel was located and secured using tamper-proof Torx screws.

On site, the combined effect of the embossing and indents create the impression of a constantly changing surface finish depending on the angle, intensity and colour of the light falling on them.

Henrik Salée, Group Operations Director with RMIG Denmark, explained: “We undertake many projects within the architectural sector, as designers are constantly seeking new and adaptable methods of expressing their creative building design solutions, yet the Oslo Opera House has been one of our most technically challenging and rewarding projects to date. Working with the artists from the very start of the project meant that we not only had to stay true to their design integrity, but also turn it into a reality, that will be on public display for decades to come, by using advanced manufacturing techniques and tooling that we developed specifically for the opera house.”

He added: “The end result is outstanding and the tailor made aluminium panels make an excellent contribution to the unique qualities of the external structure alongside the marble and extensive glazed areas. Clearly, we’re delighted to be involved with a building that has received such widespread critical acclaim, especially as our work is constantly on view to the public.”

RMIG Group is the world’s largest manufacturer and supplier of perforated metal and its products are used in a diverse range of applications and sectors from architectural and automotive, through to processing and communications.

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