Knut Hamsun Centre by Steven Holl


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New York architect Steven Holl has completed a centre dedicated to Norwegian writer Knut Hamsun in Hamarøy, Norway.

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The Knut Hamsun Center includes exhibition spaces, a library and reading room, an auditorium, and a café.


The building is clad in tarred black wood and has a roof garden surrounded by bamboo.


It opened to the public this week.

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More information in our previous story.


Here's some more information from Steven Holl:


Knut Hamsun Center in Hamarøy, Norway
Designed by Steven Holl Architects

The Knut Hamsun Center, located in Hamarøy, Norway and designed by Steven Holl Architects, will open to the public on August 4, 2009 to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Knut Hamsun’s birth.


Dedicated to Norway’s most inventive twentieth-century writer and recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature, the 2700- square-meter center is located above the Arctic Circle by the village of Presteid of Hamarøy, near the farm where Hamsun grew up.


The building includes exhibition areas, a library and reading room, a café, and an auditorium for museum and community use.


Influenced by Hamsun’s explorations of the intricacies of the human mind, the building is conceived as an archetypal and intensified compression of spirit in space and light, and as the realization of a Hamsun character in architectonic terms.


Inspired by passages of Hamsun’s texts, there is an "empty violin case" deck, while a viewing balcony is like the "girl with sleeves rolled up polishing yellow panes."


The concept for the museum, “Building as a Body: Battleground of Invisible Forces,” is realized from both inside and out.


The wood exterior is punctuated by hidden impulses piercing through the surface.


The spine of the building body, constructed from perforated brass, is the central elevator.


The board form concrete structure with stained white interiors is illuminated by diagonal rays of sunlight calculated to ricochet through the section on certain days of the year.


The tarred black wood exterior skin alludes to Norwegian Medieval wooden stave churches, and in the roof garden, long chutes of bamboo refer to traditional Norwegian sod roofs.


Designed in 1994, the building has survived Norwegian controversy with over 300 local articles.


In 2005, the original design was reinstated with the support and dedication of Alf Einar Øien and Aaslaug Vaa and in close collaboration with Oslo-based LY Arkitekter.


The realized building embodies all the original design concepts and includes the addition of a community auditorium.


The auditorium is connected to the main building via a passageway accessed through the lower lobby, which takes advantage of the natural topography, allowing for natural light along the circulation route.

Posted on Friday August 7th 2009 at 1:02 pm by . Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • boto

    A giant on the landscape !!!

  • mmm

    funnily enough, not really liking Holl’s work I really like this. Really do.


    very interesting interior space! i would really like to see some pics of that.

  • I really liked it on sketches, I didn’t like it on renderings and now…I don’t know, I’ll wait pictures from the totally completed opera. From what I see now it has lost its materiality and interesting rudeness it had on Steven Holl representations.
    Let’s see

  • INawe

    Considering that this building is 15 years in the making (conceived in 1994) it goes to show how much I like Steven Holl’s older projects as compared to now. Glad this project finally is coming to fruition because its quite beautiful and its interior spaces should be very interesting.

  • rodger

    what kind of compliment to hejduk is this, …not.
    yuk. leave hejduk to hejduk.

  • navid

    love it
    that’s it Mona

  • DN3

    The little red house are awesome!!

  • Tue

    I see immense inspiration from John Hejduk in this work.

  • steven noll

    interesting building but its scale is an eyesore in such a lovely site

  • Richie

    I like the way the building seems to echo the monumental form of the mountain rising in the background, and the linked interior spaces cascading up through the building seem like they’ll be interesting. One thing I don’t like is the tufty roof.. It looks something like a patch of wilderness on top of the building in the renders (which I can kind of understand, if they’re trying to echo the landscape) but it seems to have been turned into something more like a wicker fence in the final building, which just seems like a random addition.

  • Very tidy, would like to see it for real

  • Da’lo

    It looks like my mates 2nd yr design project.

  • lesd

    No integration to the great view of the context. Interesting use of the interior space, at least on the skecthes. Shows the continuity of Holl’s ideas considering it was designed in 1994… but may be too urban for me…

  • Interesting project…smart plans and sections…really nice watercolors! Steven Holl always delivers !

  • Hoda

    it's cool
    great interior & exterior spaces

  • adam

    Beautiful building honoring the greatest writer that ever lived.