“The Commercial Quarters” in Skien is a transformation project which recasts an existing shopping mall into autonomous multi-programmed city blocks.  

An “inside-out” commercial strategy for the street level together with an overall program retrofit, including housing, offices, services and entertainment, will support the mutation towards future mixed-use components which shall strengthen and interact with adjacent streetscape and surrounding programs.

The re-integration of the “all too big” existing structure into its city grid, is achieved by demolishing the mid-atrium between existing volumes, allowing the reopening of Rådhusgata and splitting the former mall into “northern” and “southern” quarters.




R8 Properties

Project group:

Ghilardi+Hellsten Arkitekter


Skien, Norway


40.000 m²


Residential, Retail, Masterplan


Ghilardi+Hellsten Arkitekter, Tegmark




Transformation of a mall by opening up the facades, making new street-entries, and mixing up the program.

The municipality of Skien is developing a strategic city-plan for infill and growth to revitalize the urban core and strengthen the connection between inner city and the waterfront. “The Commercial Quarters” shall become one of the main engines for jump-starting waterfront regeneration and city densification in synthony with the strategic plan “Skien 2020”.

Retail, office, dining, public space

The re-opening of Rådhusgata

The Northern Block is refurbished to operate as intended in its original design, a classic atrium city block with access from 4 sides and corners. The main entrance is highlighted by bringing back the double-height loggia facing the main square.  The interior courtyard is liberated from existing additions by stablishing only one commercial piano nobile on second floor, which links ground level and surrounding streets through a cardinal circulation system. Various events and programs will inhabit the courtyard based on a year calendar.

The inner courtyard of The Northern Block

The interior courtyard of the building will be renovated to strengthen its natural qualities, and circulation is reorganized to fit the logic of the structure. Various events and programs could inhabit the courtyard based on need.

The re-opening of Rådhusgata will stablish a robust east-west urban connection, which will encourage public flow around the new blocks along their 4 sides. The mid zone of this new street may become a semi climatized passage space for events and temporary program year around, with a strong focus on gastronomic programs.

Handelstorget and The Northern Block

The sloping ground of the plaza in front of the northern block is reshaped into terraces to create usable areas for flexible programming and frictionless contact between inside and outside. This new floor will also smooth accessibility for all users, creating strategic zones for seating and urban furnishing, prompting passers-by to dwell and inhabit the space.


Retail, event, dining, residential

Residential buildings at The Southern Block

Given its large footprint, the Southern Block will house event-oriented activities and programs. Car parking is moved to the roof to liberate valuable area on ground floor for the new cinemas. This in combination with adjoining waterfront sites to be developed as residential, will transform the southern block into a mixed-use building with continuous activity throughout the day and the evening.

Residential buildings and the waterfront park

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