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Tou Scene - A History

Once again Numusic returns to Tou Scene. Tou Scene is a vast converted Victorian brewery just meters from the shore of the west coast Fjords and only 10 mins from downtown Stavanger. This exceptional location is one of the countries leading arts centers and for one week in September is the focus of European electronic music.

The location has quickly become a popular cultural landmark, operating as an enterprise for staging multi-disciplinary programs and as a platform for the creative arts.

In recent years Tou Scene has served as Numusic’s main concert and club venue. For the duration of Numusic, Tou Scene is transformed into one of the countries most exciting and dynamic event spaces utilizing all three stages, outdoor areas, bars and terrace allowing the audience to explore the late 19th/ early 20th century architecture to the soundtrack of underground electronic Numusic programming.

The Buildings History

It is believed that the name Tou comes from the old norwegian name Taufr which means: a place where witchcraft and magic is practiced.

Tou Brewery history stretches back to 1855 when the business activities started on Tau, a small community across the fjord from Stavanger. Seven businessmen from Manchester looked at this site as a suitable place for starting a new industry - close to waterfalls as an inexpensive energy source for grain mills and an abundant supply of fresh water. The large white building to Tou Mill is still one of the region's landmarks, and can clearly be seen across the water from Stavanger.

In 1907 Tou took over the relatively new Stavanger Aktiebryggeri Lervig in Stavanger. The first building was built in 1895, the brewery complex was built in 1899. The entire Tou brewery business was transferred here in 1918, while milling operations continued at Tau.

The Design

A German company named Engelhardt & Co. had designed the plant as part of an architectural competition. The brewery was built in three stages in a sloping terrain. In 1912, it built a new yeast house and four new storage cellars. Further developments were conducted in 1914 and in 1924 a new brewing house was adopted. The large bottling facility, which is now called Ølhallen (Beer Hall), was erected in 1946.

Relocation, Sale or Closure

The brewery complex in the years of Lervig became outdated for modern use. In 1974 a new plant was built nearby, and production and bottling was gradually relocated. From the beginning of the 80‘s buildings stood empty and abandoned, and so it would remain for two decades.

 

Tou had been a key company in Stavanger, and employed a significant number of people. Many of Stavanger's inhabitants worked in summer jobs at the brewery with bottling, transport etc. When Tou Brewery in 1990 became part of a larger beer conglomerate 107 workers lost their jobs.

Decay and Rediscovery

In the period after 1980 the old abandoned buildings stood for twenty years. In the nineties the brew house (built in 1966), now known as Scene 1 was used sporadically by artists as a studio and residence. In 1999, Stavanger Chamber of Commerce  prepared a new vision for city transformation close to the city as the "Urban Seafront Storhaug”. Emphasizing arts as the key element in urban development, and the facility of the Old Tou Brewery was proposed as the center of a cultural axis.

A Cultural Scene Is Born

In June / July 2001 what is now known as Scene 2, beams were hoisted and marble staircase emerged in time for the first 2-week cultural government to renovate the building. Operating Company Tou Scene AS, was founded in 2002 by Urban Seafront AS with 50 shares, 25 artists with one share each and 5 with 5 shares each.

Rehabilitation 2004/05

The condition of many parts of the building were very poor. Tou have sought to maintain aging infrastructure, where appropriate, and have tried not to hide the interventions that were made as a result of the old brewery operations. The rehabilitation was to be transparent in relation to the original building structure and materials.

As a result of the exposed cabling, ventalation and plumbing Tou Scene is transformed into an imaginative venue at night. With industrial shadows cast over the walls during concerts, signs of it's cultural past over the last decade with fading street art from Nuart and early remnants of it's industrial past Numusic takes advantage of the story Tou tells by placing within its walls a musical genre with a history of performing in abandoned buildings breathing life into a city region often ignored.

 

For more pics of Tou Scene


 

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