Blaze breaks out near new museum
May 14, 2012
UPDATED: Smoke blew in strong winds from Oslo’s new waterfront complex at Tjuvholmen on Monday, after fire broke out in the office portion of a new landmark complex meant to house the Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art. The complex has been under construction with the museum due to open in mid-September.
Sirens roared in a massive response to the fire, which left the top floor of the distinctive new museum and office complex designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano in flames.
Police quickly blocked off the main vehicle entrance to Tjuvholmen at Filipstad, to allow emergency vehicles to reach the scene. Several ambulances, 11 fire trucks and police cars were on the scene shortly before 4pm.
Stig Henning Duaas, duty commander of the Oslo fire and emergency services, confirmed to VG Nett that the top floor of the building was ablaze. “It’s a building still under construction, but we don’t know yet whether any persons are caught in the fire,” Duaas told VG Nett. Rescue crews could later report that no one needed to be evacuated and no one was injured in the dramatic blaze.
Witnesses close to the scene, on the fjord side of the expensive new Tjuvholmen complex, reported seeing flames and thick smoke billowing from the Piano portion. It’s in a complex of brand new office and condominium buildings, some still under construction or not yet occupied, and most of which command high prices and rental rates. Among those due to be moving into the building where the fire broke out, just behind the museum portion, is the Oslo law firm BAHR.
The weather had been extremely windy all day, with some rain earlier, but the sun was shining brightly when the fire broke out. Smoke could be seen from several blocks away, carried by the strong winds off the fjord.
The private museum building slopes into the fjord and has cost an estimated NOK 650 million to build. The original Astrup Fearnley Museum, which occupied space in an office building at Grev Wedels Plass behind the Akershus Fortress, closed in January and the moving process was supposed to be getting underway.
The extent of damage from the fire wasn’t immediately clear, but a museum official told VG that no art of major value had been placed in the museum portion of the complex as of yet. The museum is known for its works by Andy Warhol, Damien Hirst, Francis Bacon and Cindy Sherman, among others.
A fire next to what’s been called a new waterfront landmark will nonetheless be a setback for Tjuvholmen, which has been built up as an exclusive area that especially has attracted many high-end art galleries in an artistic community linked to the new museum.
Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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