Just as peace negotiations require a certain amount of dexterity, so will the exhibitions and structure of the new $17 million Nobel Peace Center in Oslo.
Once the kings and queens of Norway and Sweden cut the ribbon on the former train station on June 11, visitors will learn the ins and outs of the Nobel Peace Prize through myriad personalized, computerized displays. David Adjaye Associates, the London-based architectural firm, led the project, and David Small, a Cambridge, Mass.-based firm that specializes in the design and implementation of interactive applications, delivered some of the razzle-dazzle.
Under Adjaye’s direction, David Small provided four installations: an electronic storybook about Alfred Nobel, a sonar sensor “Nobel field” that triggers audio and visual information in relation to the movements of passersby, a wall of flat panel displays called “Wallpapers” loaded with detailed information for each individual’s interests and “the Register,” a tunnel with perforated holes to mark popular cities. The cities are identified by name, but their respective countries’ boundaries are not highlighted, for a world-without-borders effect. As visitors pass a city, its native language will be played on audio tapes.
“The nature of what you can do with computers is changing the more traditional museum experience,” Small said. “For the last 10 years, objects and documents basically presented a case with an explanation. This kind of computer media experience is much more dynamic and is driven by the visitor rather than by one fixed thing for every person. It’s a greater channel for the artistic expression of an exhibition.”
With the peace center readying for opening day, David Adjaye Associates and Small are moving on to new territory. Adjaye is designing the Museum of Contemporary Art in Denver and the Idea Store, a library and learning center in London. Small is lending his expertise to the Diller + Scofidio-designed Institute of Contemporary Art being built in Boston and Ann Hamilton’s biology building, which is under construction at the University of Minnesota. For the latter, Small is creating LED strips that will cover the shell of the building and will continuously change in color and pattern.