Knut Hamsun Center | Steven Holl architects

• August 28, 2009

Knut Hamsun Center Steven Holl plusMOOD 1 595x446 Knut Hamsun Center | Steven Holl architects

Knut Hamsun Center, image courtesy of Steven Holl architects

Knut Hamsun Center Steven Holl plusMOOD construction 2 595x446 Knut Hamsun Center | Steven Holl architects

Knut Hamsun Center, image courtesy of Steven Holl architects

Steven Holl Architects has designed the Knut Hamsun Center located in Hamarøy, Norway. This is an historical museum for writer Knut Hamsun including exhibition areas, library, reading room, cafe and 230 seat auditorium.

The concept for the museum, “Building as a Body: Battleground of Invisible Forces,” is realized from inside and out. Here the wood exterior is punctuated by hidden impulses piercing through the surface: An “empty violin case” balcony has phenomenal sound properties, while a viewing balcony is like the “girl with sleeves rolled up polishing yellow panes.”

Steven Holl Architects

Knut Hamsun Center Steven Holl plusMOOD Concept Section 595x717 Knut Hamsun Center | Steven Holl architects

Knut Hamsun Center, sketch courtesy of Steven Holl

+ Project description courtesy of Steven Holl architects

Knut Hamsun, Norway’s most inventive twentieth-century writer, fabricated new forms of expression in his first novel Hunger. He went on to found a truly modern school of fiction with his works Pan, Mysteries, and Growth of the Soil. This center dedicated to Hamsun is located above the Arctic Circle near the village of Presteid of Hamarøy near the farm where the writer grew up. The 2700-square-meter center includes exhibition areas, a library and reading room, a café, and an auditorium equipped with the latest film projection equipment. (Hamsun’s writings have been particularly inspiring to filmmakers, which is evident in the more than 17 films based on his work.)

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Knut Hamsun Center, image courtesy of Steven Holl architects

The building is conceived as an archetypal and intensified compression of spirit in space and light, concretizing a Hamsun character in architectonic terms. The concept for the museum, “Building as a Body: Battleground of Invisible Forces,” is realized from inside and out. Here the wood exterior is punctuated by hidden impulses piercing through the surface: An “empty violin case” balcony has phenomenal sound properties, while a viewing balcony is like the “girl with sleeves rolled up polishing yellow panes.”

Knut Hamsun Center Steven Holl plusMOOD 3 595x793 Knut Hamsun Center | Steven Holl architects

Knut Hamsun Center, image courtesy of Steven Holl architects

Many other aspects of the building use the vernacular style as inspiration for reinterpretation. The stained black wood exterior skin is characteristic of the great wooden stave Norse churches. On the roof garden, long grass refers to traditional Norwegian sod roofs in a modern way. The rough white-painted concrete interiors are characterized by diagonal rays of light calculated to ricochet through the section on certain days of the year.

These strange, surprising, and phenomenal experiences in space, perspective, and light provide an inspiring frame for exhibitions.

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Location plan, courtesy of Steven Holl architects

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Site plan, courtesy of Steven Holl architects

Knut Hamsun Center Steven Holl plusMOOD AUDITORIUM 595x450 Knut Hamsun Center | Steven Holl architects

Auditorium floor plan, courtesy of Steven Holl architects

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Ground floor plan, courtesy of Steven Holl architects

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1st floor plan, courtesy of Steven Holl architects

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2nd floor plan, courtesy of Steven Holl architects

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3rd floor plan, courtesy of Steven Holl architects

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4th floor plan, courtesy of Steven Holl architects

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Roof plan, courtesy of Steven Holl architects

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East (left) + North (right) elevations, courtesy of Steven Holl architects

Knut Hamsun Center Steven Holl plusMOOD elevation south and west 595x370 Knut Hamsun Center | Steven Holl architects

South (left) + West (right) elevations, courtesy of Steven Holl architects

+ Project credits / data

Project: Knut Hamsun Center
Program: Historical museum for writer Knut Hamsun including exhibition areas, library, reading room, cafe and 230 seat auditorium
Location: Hamarøy , Norway
Building area (square): 24445sf / 2271sm
Year: 1994 – 2009

Client: Nordland Fylkeskommune (County)

Architect: Steven Holl Architects
Steven Holl (design architect)
Noah Yaffe (associate in charge – construction documents)
Francesco Bartolozzi, Ebbie Wisecarver (project team – construction documents)
Erik Fenstad Langdalen (project architect – design development)
Gabriela Barman-Kraemer, Yoh Hanaoka, Justin Korhammer,
Anna Müller, Audra Tuskes (project team – design development)

Associate architects (construction documents): LY Arkitekter AS
Structural engineer (design development): Guy Nordenson and Associates
Structural engineer (construction documents): Rambøll Norge
Mechanical engineer (design development): Ove Arup
Mechanical engineer (construction documents): Rambøll Norge
Lighting consultant (design development): L’Observatoire International
Lighting consultant (construction documents): Vesa Honkonen Architects
Landscape architect (construction documents): Landskapsfabikken

+ All images and drawings courtesy of Steven Holl architects

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Category: Architecture, Culture, Selected

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