Diploma Høst 2018

Innovation Center in Mandal

Søren Olav Saanum Bessesen

My diploma project is a proposal for an innovation center in Mandal, a coastal town in the south of Norway. The project started with an interest in the Filippini Oratory in Rome, a building complex by Francesco Borromini which was erected adjacent to the church in the mid 17th century. I thought that this project could represent an approach towards building in the city which is about continuity and inclusion, rather than contrast and exclusion, as it a collection of several buildings combined into one composition. It consists of clear parts; the church, the oratory, the sacristy, the courtyards, the cells, and so on. It has evolved over time, and interventions by several different architects have been made, but there are no obvious distinctions between the different stages of the building. Everything is seamlessly tied together to become one urban block that appears as one. It is almost like a miniature city within the city.


I gave the working title “Ensemble” to the project, meaning a group of buildings viewed as a whole rather than individually. Buildings that balance between being one and many, where the parts are clearly separable, but they also relate to a larger whole, ultimately to the surrounding city. I wanted to explore if it was possible to create a continuity with the existing architecture on the site, with a large area which is a field of clear, repetitive structural systems of industrial buildings, combined together to a collage. The aim has been to create a new building which is both one and many - which is built up of distinct parts but that is also a whole. This balance between sameness and difference became the most important question throughout my process. I found that it is challenging to deal with many different ideas at once, without working only with one language or one structural system.