July 4th 2017 marked the opening of the Queen Sonja Art Stable in Oslo. Located in the original stable area of the Royal Palace, The Art Stable has been transformed into a cultural venue inviting the Norwegian people and global visitors into a once inaccessible part of the palace area. Besides being a gift from His Majesty King Harald of Norway to Her Majesty Queen Sonja on her 80th birthday, the Art Stable is as much a gift to the people: A gift where Norwegian art and the royal Norwegian heritage come together as one.
The original horse stable has been restored and transformed into an Art Stable lead by the palace superintendent of the Royal Palace in cooperation with the Norwegian Culture Heritage, Statsbygg and a large team of architects, engineers and architectural historians. Snøhetta was part of this team and responsible for the bespoke furniture, the visual identity of the Art Stable and the design of a book about the stable's history.
The Art Stable comprises several different spaces, including a reception and shop area as well as a tower room exhibiting photos taken by Queen Maud. With its entry area from the street of Parkveien in Oslo, known for its green alleys in the summer time and its noble houses, the Art Stable welcomes its visitors to travel through time and explore the juxtaposition of antique and new, preserved and added, in this unique gallery space at the very heart of Oslo.
The Queen Sonja Art Stable is an example of an adaptive reuse typology: the design highlights many of the original details of both interior and exterior while at the same time converting it into a space in which a variety of art can be displayed. The venue also provides for events such as concerts and lectures.
Snøhetta worked closely with Henriksen Snekkeri AS to develop custom cabinetry and flexible interior walls functioning as display for graphic art and paintings. The cabinets in the shop are made from stained oak, inspired by the original booth dividers of the stable.
Ensuring that all newly added elements, including the customized cabinetry, can be removed or reorganized at the Royal House’s request or needs, the Art Stable can be transformed to accommodate a wide range of cultural venues.
In addition to the work of the bespoke furniture, Snøhetta also developed a visual identity for the new Art Stable, comprising a logo as well as a book drawing up the history of the stable from the time it was built in the mid-19th century after the sketches of architect H.D.F. Linstow. This work was led by The Royal Court. The book adds context to the cultural heritage of the Art Stable, situating it in space and time. Indeed, the stable bears within itself a unique piece of history from the beginning of the 20th century, from when it was expanded by King Haakon and Queen Maud, until the post war era when the Norwegian Royal Family returned to Norway from its exile in London after World War II.