In the fall of 2020, Snøhetta completed a feasibility study for the Kon-Tiki Museum in Oslo, Norway, aiming to renew the museum in line with Thor Heyerdahl’s adventurous spirit and the explorer’s drive to promote intercultural understanding and tolerance, respect for our natural resources, and conservation of healthy marine environment for the world’s oceans. Set to open in 2025, the revitalization of the existing building and its new expansion will let visitors experience and explore an unparalleled cultural heritage that is reflected in a context of today.
Located on the forested Bygdøy peninsula in Oslo, the Kon-Tiki Museum is one of Norway’s most visited museums, with more than 70 per cent of its visitors coming from abroad to take part in Thor Heyerdahl’s historic adventures. The museum houses a broad range of Heyerdahl’s work, from his first trip to the Pacific Island of Fatu Hiva to his journeys with Kon-Tiki, the Ra, the Ra II and the Tigris. Despite Heyerdahl’s passing in 2002, his thoughts, ideas and research vibrantly live on, both within and outside of the museum.
The Boy Who Never Lost His Adventurous Spirit
Already as a young boy, Heyerdahl had a strong interest in nature and animals. The new Kon-Tiki Museum aims to spark this same curiosity and urge to explore, particularly among children.
A large and lush green garden, surrounded by trees to both the east and the west, creates an intimate and contemplative space. With its relatively unprogrammed space, the garden is created for exploration, while also being well-suited for larger events and gatherings.
The centered expansion of museum gently splits the existing building in two, with Kon-Tiki and Ra II on each of the sides. The direction boldly follows the original building on its iconic triangular shape. The wooden wedge stretches as a sail with the wind, establishing a connection between the urban frontcourt and the garden oasis. The sail unfolds towards the sky and leads the way forward, symbolizing Heyerdahl’s focus on close collaboration between people and nature.
The museum’s new centerpiece holds a large multi-purpose auditorium at the tip, with spectacular views of the garden and the sky – a place dedicated for young and old alike to learn and discuss the importance of consumption reduction and address the global challenges related to our lack of focus on ocean health.
A Pioneer in Nature Conservation
Heyerdahl was invested in the preservation of nature, concerned by overconsumption, and passionate about creating a more sustainable world. Ambitious sustainability targets have therefore been set for the new museum. In alignment with the 1.5-degree target of the Paris Agreement, Snøhetta aims to reduce the building’s total CO2 emissions through use of energy efficient materials, reuse, and a holistic view of the lifecycle of the building. With its multi-purpose auditorium and outdoor spaces, the new museum aims to transmit Heyerdahl’s thoughts and bring his heritage and vision into the future.