Q42 - a landmark building for Kristiansand

May 10, 2017

The elegance of Q42 attracts attention. Almost the size of an entire block, the building was finished in Kristiansand, the southernmost city of Norway, in October 2016. The spacious entrance in the sculptural opening in the southeast corner of the building is three storeys high. The three topmost floors of the building have been built above this unenclosed space without supporting pillars.

“We didn’t set out to create a particularly complex or exceptional building. Functionality came first, followed by architecture and design. A well-functioning building can nevertheless be elegantly designed,” said Billy Øksendal, who represented the property owner Filadelfia in the building project.

Landmark in the eastern part of the city

The city of Kristiansand intended to develop the plot on which Q42 was eventually built. When Filadelfia, a Pentecostal Church, submitted its plan, the city was prepared to sell the plot to them. The plans included building a property with housing for seniors and a large concert hall, as well as a variety of daily activities for residents.

“The building also fulfils a social function. Senior citizens can live in their own homes, with other people around and there are activities in the building every day,” noted Billy Øksendal.

Q42 has 68 apartments and 8 smaller apartments for social housing. The building also houses an 11-room hotel, a leisure centre with sauna for seniors, a congress centre and a concert hall for 1,300 people, complete with TV and radio studio. The street level lobby, with restaurant and entrance to the concert hall, serves as the heart of the building.

Q42 has seven floors including the technical floor above ground and two below. The energy efficiency of the building is better than required and technical systems are employed.

Developer brings together a team of experts

BRG Group of Kristiansand was responsible for the Q42 building project. They contacted the investor 18 months before construction started and convinced the developer that they could deliver the kind of solutions to enable the building to be completed according to schedule.

“Since we ourselves had no experience of steel construction, we bought it from a firm that had. Ruukki was chosen to deliver the steel frame because of its competence and good delivery reliability. We were then able to promise the customer that we could complete to schedule,” said BRG Group’s Arne Bjorseth Nilsen, who acted as the project manager.

Since the plot is in the centre of Kristiansand, the steel frame components were transported to the site at night. The frame components were so big that some of the traffic signals had to be removed from the streets during transport.

The investor chose partners for the construction project on the basis of the best end result. Ruukki was chosen as the total supplier of the steel frame for Q42.

Most impressive not always the most complex

The unenclosed high sculptural opening in the corner of the building and the three storeys above it without supporting pillars might seem to be the most challenging part of the building. This was not the case, however. It is unusual to find housing and a concert hall in the same building as in Q42, where apartments have been built on top of the concert hall. To prevent any sound, including resonance, from being heard inside the apartments, the concert hall was built as a box in box structure where the inner part is separately from outside structure. In a way, it could be extracted from the rest of the structure.

The steel frame and structure called for exceptional planning and realisation. For example, the separateness of the concert hall from the rest of the building impacted on the fact that, among other things, the apartment balconies were joined to the frame from the top down, rather like hanging balconies. This means that not a single apartment or balcony structure is attached to the concert hall structure. The blare of the music is neither heard nor felt in the apartments.

Decision on material case by case

An architect designs the appearance of a building. In practice, the construction company chooses the building materials, although the investor also has a say, as was the case with Q42. For example, a price cap was imposed on the building’s facade, after which the customer and investor chose the best possible option for the price, functionality and appearance. This resulted in an elegant facade for Q42.

“Sometimes, the structures determine the building materials used. This was the case with the frame, for example. A steel frame was the only way the architecture of the building could become a reality,” said Billy Øksendal.

Managed to keep to schedule

Q42 was BRG Group and Ruukki’s first joint project. Billy Øksendal said that a multi-purpose building needs considerably more planning than an office building or even a residential building. Premises for different purposes have their own standards such as fire safety, air conditioning, heating or even communications. Q42 was completed to schedule.

“Once things got going after initial teething problems, everything went really smoothly. The steel structure played an important role in ensuring the entire building was completed to schedule. If the frame is delayed the entire project will be delayed,” said Arne Bjorseth Nilsen.

Billy Øksendal agrees with Arne Bjorseth Nilsen. Because the building was finished within the schedule provided by the owner, it is a successful project from the customer’s point of view.

“Reliability, delivery accuracy and capacity to deliver for large projects are what I consider to be Ruukki’s greatest strength,” said Arne Bjorseth Nilsen.

Feel good factor to the area

In early 2017, the building was still at the “running in” stage.

“This will yet be a popular venue. Concerts will attract people and conferences and other events will bring more life to the building and vitalise the entire eastern part of the centre,” said Billy Øksendal confidently.

“We’ve heard only good comments about the building. It’s improved the image of and interest in this district of the city.”

“I’ve heard many good things about the building. There are activities and the apartments have practically all been sold. As a construction firm, this project was also a good reference for us, one of the very best,” adds Arne Bjorseth Nilsen.

Ruukki’s delivery

Ruukki delivered the main steel frame totalling around 650 tonnes, including large trusses, beams and columns. Ruukki’s delivery also included the design, workshop drawings and installation drawings.

The design work was done by Sweco Finland. The whole project was delivered on a turnkey basis.

Q42 has total floor space of 22,000 square metres spread across 7–8 storeys, of which two are underground.

This involved a very challenging and project-specific design, as well as the delivery and installation of five large steel trusses. The largest truss weighed 57 tonnes and was 40 metres long and almost 8 metres high. The customer saved total building time and money because the trusses were delivered and installed as complete structures.

Construction started in October 2014 and was completed in 2016.

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