Knut Hamsun Center by Steven Holl
Architects (more images)



Here are more images of Steven Holl Architects' Knut Hamsun Center at Hamarøy, Norway, which opened last week.


The opening of the building coincides with the 150th anniversary of the Norwegian writer and is "conceived as an archetypal and intensified compression of spirit in space and light, concretizing a Hamsun character in architectonic terms."


More info, including drawings, plans and construction shots, in our earlier story.


Even more info, including renderings, in our story from 2007.


Images above and below: copyright Ernst Furuhatt - Salten Museum.


All other images are copyright Steven Holl Architects.


More Dezeen stories about Steven Holl:

Linked Hybrid in Beijing (completion photos)
Shenzhen 4 Tower in 1
The LM Project in Copenhagen
Franz Kafka Society Centre in Prague
Porosity Bench
Linked Hybrid in Beijing (construction photos)
Sliced Porosity Block in Chengdu
Hudson Yards masterplan in New York
NYU Department of Philosophy in New York
Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City


Here's some info from the architects:


Knut Hamsun Center
Hamarøy, Norway
1994 - 2009



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.) 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."


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.


Posted on Monday August 10th 2009 at 11:50 pm by . Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • ryan


    one of my professors was invited to the opening and said he wasn’t sure he was going….i sure hope he didn’t miss this.

    otherwise i would have needed to impersonate him. i’ve been looking forward to the finished images for a long time. not a letdown at all


    amazing. todays architecture at its best!

  • I like the design but the fact that it dwarfs every other building in the community is a shame.

  • Dev

    Beautiful design but ruins harmony of the landscape. Hence I don’t like it.

  • tanya telford – T

    from these pictures the interior looks very dynamic. Im ok with the scale as it seems to somehow eco the mountain range behind which i quite like. Looks like a great place for exhibitions and film showings etc. It even has a roof garden.

  • mike

    he designed without to visit this village…

  • Gaston

    Does anyone have some images of the roof ? I always loved the maquette and the hairy roof garden, and honestly this seemed to be the biggest challenge in the whole project.
    The far away images indicate that there is something, although much smaller in scale.

    Anyway. It is great that it got realized eventually !!!!!! Perfect

  • justin

    For a self-proclaimed phenomenologist, Holl has really disappointed with painted concrete interiors.

  • elephantintheroom

    …. slightly disappointing … Knut Hamsun is regarded as the soul of Norway, this building seems to lack some of that precious quality. It may need a visit, the snaps are not that good.

  • Henrique Marques

    Nice shape and wood work. To me the interior could be a beat more expressive in some spaces… But it still very good.

  • Really nice … i love the works of Steven Holl.
    The selection of the colours, the materials … everything’s just fine!

  • tanya telford – T

    have just read very moving (and v sad due to subject) article in guardian newspaper on this building project (very complex & I now understand this building is hoping to be about reconciliation):

  • Beautiful – Unfortunately, the days where daylight is going to provide those fantatic effects indoors are very very limited in Norway – the man to help solve this would be young Norwegian lighting designer Daniel Rybakken –

  • Micael

    Think is the result of living with king on the bale…

  • Interesting concept but very insensitively executed on the Norwegian coast line, I’m surprised the council let the design go ahead. The materials and design ethos are appropriate but the stocky shape introduces a negative visual energy. It’s a shame design elements of the landscape, especially the mountains weren’t considered more closely.

  • Sensitivity to its breath-taking context seems to lack. Architecture is trying to stand tall and create a landmark. I wish the approach to design was one that merges with the nature; yet creating an impact.

    Interiors seem simplistic and attractive. Love the over-hanging glass balcony.

  • orod

    A R C H I T E C T U R E & natur…………..?

  • Henry

    I sure would like to see the exterior be charred cedar instead of painted..

  • April Ju

    What an awful, cheerless and drab building. A new low for architecture, even for the pretentious stuff that Holl produces.