Scan Magazine, Issue 82, November 2015

Page 88

Christmas in the vault In the heart of Kristiansand on the south coast of Norway stands an impressive century-old neoclassical building. Surprisingly, however, it is the basement of this building that has the most to offer. A Christmas party at Bankkjelleren, the old bank vault, is one of the most extraordinary ways to ring in the Christmas season. By Maria Lanza Knudsen | Photos: Terje Drivdal Sollie

Built in 1892 by the private bank Søndenfjelske, Bankkjelleren was designed by the architect Richard Mauritz Tønnesen, who won the competitive bid. With four monumental Greek-like columns placed diagonally on the corner of the two streets, Dronningens Gate and Markens Gate, the building has a distinctive character with its mix of neoclassical design and early signs of jugendstil, the popular decorative art form from the late 1800s, on the small pillars on the roof. After a century of operation, the bank finally shut its doors for the last time in 1992 and the new tenant, a fast food restaurant, moved into a section of the premises. It was in 2012 that the im88 | Issue 82 | November 2015

pressive building was acquired by the new owners, Hillegarn Eiendom AS, who subsequently renovated the property, opening up the old bank vault in all its former glory as Bankkjelleren’s function rooms. Earlier this year, Bankkjelleren introduced another function room on the first floor, expanding its capacity to host larger groups, just in time for the Christmas season. “We are incredibly proud of how the vault has been preserved and made available to the general public,” says the owner, Martin Graham. “In the vault, Bankkjelleren offers a most unique atmosphere – a fascinating mixture of old world charm and modern functionality.”

A special venue Bankkjelleren has hosted conferences, seminars, memorial services, concerts and even a fashion show. Most recently, the famous musician and activist Bob Geldof dined in the vault. Today, the establishment offers space for all types of events and parties: from small, intimate dinners of ten to 15 people to parties and weddings of over 85 people. The main hall seats 85 people for dinner while the new first-floor hall seats 100 people or can host 120 guests for conferences and other events. At Christmas time, the establishment is decorated appropriately to herald in the festive season. Glowing Christmas stars are suspended on the walls and over a hundred candles are lit to complement the light fixtures in the floor, creating a spectacular atmosphere no matter the time of day.

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