The developer, contractor and architect have been selected, and the preliminary project is underway. The goal is to open a brand-new public building for UiA and the science centre Vitensenteret Sørlandet on Campus Kristiansand in 2026.
“I’m pleased that we have come so far that the contracts have been awarded and the preliminary project has started. If everything goes as planned, Kristiansand will have perhaps Norway's most exciting and professional science venue - to the delight of our students and employees, curious children, young people and adults of all ages in just a few years.”
That is what the project managers, Vibeke Ulstein and Gro Elisabeth Lundevik, in UiA's Division of Finance and Campus Management say. They say that the initiators of the new building – UiA and Vitensenter Sørlandet and its owner Arendal municipality - finalised the tender at the beginning of May.
The result of the tender process shows that Statsbygg (the Directorate of Public Construction and Property Management) has granted a lease of land for the new building, to be located on the university's campus in Kristiansand, close to Spicheren and the Student Welfare Organisation’s health centre. Furthermore, the real estate company Greveskogen Eiendom AS in Oslo is the contractor, through the special purpose company Vitenbygg Campus Kristiansand AS, while Skanska Region Sør will be responsible for the construction itself.
Also involved is the Oslo-based architecture firm Filter, which has also been involved in the development of the new school and sports centre in Søgne, which will be completed this summer.
The project is organised as a public-private partnership (PPP), where the private company has the role of developer and is responsible for the construction, financing, operation and maintenance of the building, while UiA and Vitensenter Sørlandet will be tenants of the building they have been eager to get.
Vitensenteret Sørlandet is a hands-on science and learning centre for children and young people with branches in Arendal and Kristiansand. It is one of Norway's 12 science centres and participates actively in the government's science initiative. More than 50,000 children, young people and adults visited the centre or participated in the activities and dissemination events provided by the centre in 2022 - an increase of over 20% from the previous year.
“We will increase the offer in Kristiansand, which means that we need more staff and more space. The project we have together with UiA is therefore great for us,” says Kine Wangerud, the science centre manager.
When the new 3,000 square metres science building is completed, the Kristiansand branch of the science centre will occupy two thirds of the space. The remaining 1,000 square metres will be used by the University of Agder for teaching, research and dissemination of its interdisciplinary activities, and to communicate science to children and young people in particular.
An estimated 500 square metres of UiA’s part will be open to the public, with exhibitions and activities in collaboration with Vitensenter Sørlandet. The remaining space will have infrastructure and space for co-creation between researchers, students, regional business and industry, public administration and others who have a particular focus on science communication.
“We want to improve our science communication. A building such as this will help us do that,” says adviser Jon Hansson in the Teacher Education Unit, who leads the work on the academic content in the new building in collaboration with the science centre, the faculties and the teacher education at UiA.
Jon Hansson says that the project is a good example of a co-creation project that is developed in close contact with the parties involved. In the preliminary project that is now in progress, UiA is working to concretise the plans for its part of the new building.
“We have already established contact with the academic communities at the university and are collaborating to plan good exhibitions and activities. The details have not been settled yet, but it is clear that in the space we occupy, we will place particular emphasis on the scientific side of what the public will encounter. Yet it should also engage, surprise and be interesting and exciting for everyone who is curious about science,” he says.
Both the municipalities of Kristiansand and Arendal have been following the work related to the science building on campus Kristiansand with interest.
“The initiative is very exciting. We have also been invited to join in to define the content and contribute to ensuring that both the building and content will provide a good addition to the municipality's residents and visitors. We have had good cooperation with both the science centre and UiA over many years, but now plans are being made for even closer cooperation which is very good,” says Chief Municipal Executive Camilla Dunsæd in Kristiansand.
“For our part, we see that this will contribute to increasing interest in science, perhaps especially among children and young people. A science centre on Campus Kristiansand will be an important boost for increasing the level of knowledge and competence not only in Arendal and Kristiansand, but in the region as a whole. We think that's great,” says Chief Municipal Executive Inger Hegna in Arendal.
The preliminary project, including detailed design of the building, is scheduled to be completed in late autumn. For UiA's part, the University Board will decide whether the project should proceed to the construction phase for the building to be completed at the beginning of 2026. This is on the agenda for the November board meeting. Arendal municipality will have to make the same decision before the construction can begin.
In connection with the preliminary project, a separate collaboration group has been established. It consists of: