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Nordic Architecture and Design – Norway

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Birdwatching tower.

Architecture made to last

Norwegian architecture firm Vindveggen Arkitekter AS designs striking buildings and constructions with sustainability in mind. From schools and apartment complexes to swimming halls and birdwatching towers, Vindveggen creates spaces for future generations.

Founded in 1995, Vindveggen, which translates as ‘the wind wall’, was named after an impressive 650-metre-long wooden wall built in the early 1900s to protect timber from the harsh winds ravaging the Lillestrøm area. Though the wall is gone and the timber no longer needs the same type of protection, Vindveggen carries on the legacy of creating aesthetically pleasing designs that contribute to society and the local area.

One of Vindveggen’s current projects is a brand-new indoor swimming pool, Jessheimbadet, designed in collaboration with Nuno Arkitektur AS. The swimming pool, located in Jessheim, Norway, is part of a big development involving housing, sports facilities, schools and kindergartens, essentially building a brand-new district in the South-Eastern town.

Birdwatching tower view. “Designing public buildings can be challenging, but very rewarding,” says architect and partner Espen Bærheim. “We consider it an important social responsibility. They are buildings designed to be used by a lot of people over a long period of time, so the quality must be high, both aesthetically speaking and in terms of usability.”

Attention to detail “A swimming pool, in comparison to most public buildings, has a very varied clientele,” reflects Bærheim. “It has to cater to top athletes and senior citizens. Schools should be able to do swimming lessons there, and pools need to be accessible for the multi-handicapped for training and rehabilitation. Everyone, ages zero to 100, should be able to use the facilities.”

Safety is another key element in a swimming pool, requiring the building to be

open, airy and bright, while simultaneously maintaining a certain level of discretion for its visitors. The climate of swimming pools poses another challenge. It is hot, damp, and with a lot of potential corrosion. This means that every little detail must be taken into consideration, all building materials must be top quality, and the technical facilities cleaning the air and water are extremely advanced.

Jessheimbadet, with its perfectly round shape, is a striking construction and was nominated for the 2021 Arkitekturpris for Ullensaker kommune (Ullensaker municipality’s architecture award). 6,600 square metres large with a maximum capacity of nearly 500 visitors, the building offers seven pools, including a sports pool with eight lanes and accessible pools for training and rehabilitation. There is a Jacuzzi, saunas, a toddler pool, diving boards, a water slide, and a cafeteria serving both inside and outside of the pool area.

A tower for the birdwatchers Another project Vindveggen has just finished is a very different kind of structure: a birdwatching tower. The wooden construction is located in the nature conservation area Nordre Øyeren, the largest inland river delta in the Nordics. Here, the rivers Glomma, Leira and Nitelva meet the lakes Svellet and Øyeren, creating a complex ecosystem that is home to a multitude of flora and fauna. The birdwatching tower was commissioned to allow safe and easy access to the area, which has been a popular destination for birdwatchers through the ages.

The tower, designed in collaboration with Museene i Akershus (MIA), opened to the public in 2020. It is built from ore-pine, the heartwood of old-growth pine. This is the same kind of wood used to build the Scandinavian stave churches in the Middle Ages and can be used untreated thanks to its resin bleeding outwards and acting as natural impregnation. Environmentally friendly and gently placed in its surroundings, the tower benefits the birdwatchers while shielding the surrounding wildlife.

“It has become a popular destination for both ornithologists and hikers,” Bærheim says. “Ornithologists often have highly advanced equipment, requiring a very stable foundation, and we’ve taken that into consideration when designing the tower.”

This is why, structurally, the tower consists of three separate constructions standing independently of each other. This makes it incredibly stable, despite people walking up and down the stairs. Built mainly by enthusiasts and volunteers, the project was nominated for the 2021 Lillestrøm kommunes arkitektur- og byggeskikkpris (Lillestrøm municipality’s architecture and vernacular architecture award). Access to the birdwatching tower is free for all.

Diving into the pool at Jessheimbadet. Photo: Tove Lauluten - www.tovelauluten.no

Web: www.vindveggen.no

Jessheimbadet building. Photo: Tove Lauluten - www.tovelauluten.no Detail from Jessheimbadet. Photo: Tove Lauluten www.tovelauluten.no

A seamless blend of architecture and nature

When Architect Per Pande-Rolfsen was asked to design a cabin blending seamlessly into the Norwegian mountains, with panoramic views of the scenery, he jumped at the idea. Playing with the elements and combining natural materials with innovative ideas, he designed a building challenging the idea of what a cabin should be and look like.

Currently stepping away from his own company and into architecture firm CK Nor Bygg AS, renowned Norwegian architect Per Pande-Rolfsen has more than 35 years’ experience of designing housing and commercial buildings behind him, in addition to working with interior and furniture design, regulation and planning.

With extensive knowledge and clients ranging from individual customers to large financial groups, the Norwegian state and The Royal Court, Pande-Rolfsen drew inspiration and experience from his substantial CV and portfolio when asked to design the cabin in the mountains. Before he even started designing the building, he, along with the owner of the cabin, went to the plot of land high in the mountains and spent a whole day getting to know the area, the geography and the surroundings.

Sunrise on the roof. “We brought food and coffee and spent hours in the heather just looking around,” says Pande-Rolfsen. “We then walked around, outlining the plot and taking note of each bump, ditch, anthill and tree. This also gave the client the time to tell me about his dreams and visions for the cabin.”

The main focus: a view of the nature reserve Hallingskarvet. And not only should it blend seamlessly into the surroundings, but it should also be sustainable and near maintenance-free.

Cabin in winter.

A seamless extension of the terrain The terrain of the plot was a slope, but rather than levelling the ground to make for a plane building, they decided on building the cabin into the ground, making it a seamless extension of the existing terrain. And rather than building a multi-storey structure, they decided on a single-level construction, allowing the natural rise and fall of the terrain to give the various rooms an added dynamic and a feeling of space and distance. This would also leave the surrounding nature as the focal point, rather than the cabin itself.

In addition, the structure of the cabin needed to be built to withstand the elements, whether facing heavy snowfall, autumn storms, or frosty winters. This was the starting point of the design, centring on the panoramic windows that visually connect the cabin’s living room to the outside. The interior of the cabin ties it all together by continuing the use of natural materials such as stone and wood, which adds to the sense of connection with the nature outside. The colour scheme inside is subdued, so as not to take away from the light and the colours of the surroundings. By avoiding attention-seeking colourful and bright interiors, nature and the local scenery are allowed to serve as the work of art and become the focal point. The luxurious cabin offers not only a spacious living room with a fireplace and dining area, but also a top-modern kitchen, three bedrooms and a bathroom, as well as a sauna with views of the mountains.

From the outside, however, the cabin is barely visible from a distance. Built into the ground, using materials matching the colour scheme in the area, the cabin is a far cry from the wooden palaces often found in the Norwegian mountains. In the winter, when snowfall is heavy, the large windows and the weathervane are the only giveaways that there is more than just rock and moss here.

A room with a fjord view Pande-Rolfsen is also working on some seaside projects. New buildings are currently being built at a resort by the water on the island of Senja in the north of Norway, with panoramic views of the fjord, the midnight sun and the Aurora Borealis – the northern lights. PandeRolfsen, together with DI interior design, has designed the resort’s ‘Aurora rooms’, named after said Aurora Borealis – superior suites designed to host the big occasions in life, be it a honeymoon, a proposal, or simply a luxurious experience out of the ordinary. In addition, he has designed cabins in the area clad in a type of wood that naturally impregnates over time, blending them with the surrounding colours, but with an eyecatching silhouette against the sky.

Web: www.ckark.no

Rock cladding outside. Cabins in Senja.

This Håvegen residence won the 2019 Hå municipality Byggeskikkpris award.

Room for excitement

Norway has exceptionally varied geography, ranging from large cities to windy coastlines, from deep forests to rocky mountains and sunny archipelagos. This creates demand for houses and buildings tailored to their specific use and location, in terms of both design and durability.

Founded by four women in 1993, Arkitektkontoret IHT, with its 11 architects and engineers, works towards one clear, shared goal: creating room for excitement. This motto is the foundation of all their work and is achieved through good conversations and communication with clients and builders, engagement, and creativity without limits. Though they design a large spectrum of buildings all over the country, from office and utility buildings to housing and holiday homes, their focus is on the latter: houses built for people.

“Traditions within construction is something that has accumulated over the centuries,” says CEO and architect Ingunn Aarrestad. “Today, everything is developing very fast, and it is important to be critical about what we create and make sure that we are positively contributing to future generations. Still, we shouldn’t be so true to tradition that we are afraid to create new cultural elements. Things that are created today also have a right to exist.”

Designing buildings made to stand out while blending in with the surroundings defines the work of Arkitektkontoret IHT. Trying to erase the visual barriers between the outside and the inside of a building extends both spaces, making them feel bigger, brighter and more spacious. Each building is tailored to the plot of land, be it a garden, the archipelago with its rocky terrain, or the shore.

Located in Jæren on the southern coast of Norway, Arkitektkontoret IHT is used to coastal weather and harsh climate conditions, and despite having clients nationwide, this is something they always take into consideration when designing houses. Built to withstand heavy rain, storms, and the wide span of temperatures the Norwegian climate has to offer, their houses are solid, yet elegant and spacious.

Award-winning architecture One of these buildings is the awardwinning Håvegen. The private residence, consisting of the main building, a tool shed and a garage, is built around a yard the traditional Norwegian way. This provides a sheltered outside space between

the buildings, protected from cold winds and allowing for a prolonged season of outdoor activities.

Located by the sea at Jæren, the buildings are designed in natural materials such as wood, concrete, glass and slate. Clad in environmentally friendly, low-maintenance materials, the colours are subdued and made to harmonise with the surroundings. The view, good lighting conditions and ability to withstand the harsh climate of the Norwegian coast were equally important when designing the project, which won the 2019 Hå municipality Byggeskikkpris (Vernacular Architecture Award).

Another example of a house perfectly tailored to its surroundings is a holiday home near the Southern Norwegian town of Mandal, Norway. The cabin is delicately built among the rocks in the archipelago, with the sea immediately outside the house. The rocky and varying terrain demanded creative solutions, making the house a one-of-a-kind holiday home, seamlessly blending into the beautiful surroundings. With an outstanding ocean view and the opportunity of opening up entire walls towards the sea and the surroundings, the cabin challenges the border between indoors and outdoors. This means that on warm summer days, the surrounding nature extends into the cabin, while still providing a warm, cosy shelter in the winter months.

Enhancing rather than interrupting “We always want to add something positive to the landscape and the surroundings with what we build today, so that our children and grandchildren can see the qualities in what we’ve created,” Aarrestad says.

One non-residential project, designed using the same principles, features three boathouses located right on the water in Rogaland county in the South West of Norway. Clad entirely in wood, the three buildings are situated partly on the water. With their eye-catching angles and the way they’re positioned next to each other, they make an artistic addition to the area – enhancing the beauty of the scene, rather than interrupting it.

Web: www.iht.no Facebook: iht.no Instagram: @arkitektkontoretiht

Top left: This holiday home is delicately built among the rocks in the Mandal archipelago, seamlessly blending into the surroundings. Photo: Ingunn Aarrestad/ Arkitektkontoret IHT. Top right: The eye-catching boathouses in Rogaland county add an artistic touch to the area. Bottom left: This Stavanger residence is perfectly adapted to the lot and the surroundings. Bottom right: The environmentally friendly Håvegen residence is built to withstand the harsh climate and harmonise with the surroundings.

Carpe Diem outside of Oslo is a constructed village for people with dementia, with recognisable surroundings, colours and outdoor gardens and walking paths. Photo: Simon Kennedy

From airports to hospitals and homes – a Nordic way to democratise architecture

Based in the Nordic hubs of Oslo, Reykjavík and Copenhagen, Nordic – Office of Architecture (or Nordic, for short) creates and designs across borders and fields.

“We specialise in complex issues and enjoy taking the role of advisor in projects. You can be an architect and only focus on drawing a house and finishing a project, but the way Nordic sees it, you can also be an architect and an advisor by trying to solve bigger issues rather than just drawing and designing the lines,” says Eskild Andersen, CEO and architect at Nordic – Office of Architecture.

The firm aims to approach architecture in a way that people understand and can be a part of. To succeed, multidisciplinary teams and thorough procedures are key, according to Andersen. “What’s unique for us is how we approach architecture democratically. The process is a goal in itself. What we create is a result of a process that includes bringing our clients and users along in making decisions, designing and creating,” says Andersen.

To stand the test of time With over 40 years’ experience and expertise in fields ranging from airports to learning facilities, complex hospitals, urban spaces, interiors and residential design, Nordic’s portfolio is remarkably broad. The architecture office has gained notable attention and nominations for its approach to architecture, design and sustainability, both within the Nordic countries and globally. Its ambition is to create enduring spaces that can be used and lived in decades from now, by opting for natural materials with a long lifetime, such as massive wood constructions.

“The most important thing we can do to be sustainable is to plan well, refrain from building bigger than we need to, and reuse materials. An aspect that characterises our architecture is a

timeless expression, allowing buildings to stand the test of changing fashion and time,” says Andersen.

Nordic explores and strives towards sustainability in every step. A current example is its role in a nationally funded consortium, together with Norwegian aluminium and renewable energy company Hydro, to discover how to make the construction industry more sustainable by using scrap aluminium in a constructive context.

Currently, the Oslo office is working on the new Regjeringskvartalet (New Government Quarter) in the Norwegian capital, which was damaged during the bombing in 2011. The premises will consist of new buildings that work in harmony with the old main block. “Many would argue that we should tear it down – it’s old, partly destroyed, with many challenges to meet current technical standards. But as an initiative to reduce the carbon footprint, we chose to transform the existing block. Transformation is a practice we use in several projects,” says Andersen.

Nordic has the technical skills and experience to take on such projects of extreme complexity, he adds, higlighting masterplanning as an area of expertise.

Buildings for people While environmental sustainability is part of Nordic’s DNA, social sustainability and the contribution to a happy and healthy society are equally essential. “Architecture is important to humans because it affects our well-being. Good architecture does something to you. Science has proven that. We work a lot with healthcare facilities and urban planning projects and see what we call health-promoting design as an essential mainstay by always putting humans first in our projects,” says Andersen.

Nordic is the name behind facilities of leading, modern hospitals such as Stavanger University Hospital and London Cancer Hub, as well as nurseries and schools across the Nordics. Each building is formed with people’s well-being in mind.

“An example is our project Carpe Diem, Norway’s first dementia village, just outside of Oslo. The goal of the project is to give the residents the best possible quality of life and more independence. The buildings and outdoor spaces are connected so that no one gets lost, and we used recognisable colours and surroundings, intending to give them a sense of a neighbourhood and a feeling of being at home,” says Andersen.

An international approach While the Nordics make up the prime area of focus, Nordic – Office of Architecture works across the globe and collaborates across borders and offices. “It’s a great way to learn from each other’s cultures. Additionally, we have a multicultural team consisting of over 30 nationalities. Yes, we are a Nordic architecture firm, but we certainly have an international approach,” says Andersen.

This international approach is reflected in the office portfolio. Airports are an area of expertise for Nordic, and they have constructed Flesland in Bergen, Gardermoen in Oslo and Istanbul Airport in Turkey. Currently, airports in India and China are in the works. For international projects, Nordic always brings a uniquely Nordic touch. For instance, the teams use natural light and warm materials otherwise not commonly seen in big, international airports.

“These projects increase our cultural understanding across borders and our perception of the world. When it comes to architecture, we work closely with our clients to find the right way to balance our Nordic touch with their local culture and identity,” Andersen concludes.

Web: www.nordicarch.com Facebook: nordicooa Instagram: @nordicooa LinkedIn: /company/ nordic-office-of-architecture/

Nanchang Waves in China, a landscape-based community centre. Photo: Shiran Nordic Oslo Office. Photo: Anne Bråtveit

Left: Outside the children’s hospital in Bergen. Photo: Jiri Havran. Top right: Photo: PKA. Bottom right: Interior of the award-winning hotel, Britannia Hotell in Trondheim. Photo: Dreyer+Hensley

Architecture for a lively and ever-evolving city

“Nordic architecture is, to us, about sensitivity to human nature, to history and our surroundings,” says architect Axel Kristoffersen.

Kristoffersen is the current CEO of Per Knudsen Arkitektkontor (PKA), one of the leading architecture firms in Trondheim. With a history stretching over more than 40 years, PKA is the creator of several architectural monuments in Norway’s third-largest city. Among them are the Dragvoll campus of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, and more recently the ongoing project Trondheim Central Station and the notable renovation of the award-winning Britannia Hotell.

“PKA has made a mark on and continues to enhance the city of Trondheim, with projects like the new Trondheim Central Station, Pirbadet and the head offices of the city police, among others. Such purpose-built designs, alongside health premises such as the new children’s hospital in Bergen, university buildings, office spaces and, crucially, housing, constitute the broad array of our portfolio today,” says Kristoffersen.

Imprinted in the DNA of PKA are pillars of sustainability to emphasise the use of natural daylight in every building and create spaces that play a role in empowering a buzzing city. PKA aims to choose lasting materials that evolve to become more beautiful as time passes and buildings age.

Kristoffersen highlights that PKA’s staff, now counting almost 50, has a shared vision of collaborating across planning, designing and creating. Engagement with the communities each project is part of, collaboration and a willingness to empower each other as well as customers, are also important values for PKA.

The firm aims for the buildings it creates and designs to give people a sense of belonging, energy and a feeling of well-being. “A vibrant city evolves according to changing needs. For it to remain, things have to work, and the town needs to evolve. The city must serve its purpose at all hours – streets and urban spaces must be activated through outwardfacing and inviting premises at street level,” says Kristoffersen.

He adds that it is essential for PKA that buildings are given flexibility and qualities that make them robust enough to cope with ever-changing needs and technical transformations. “Our aesthetic goal builds on sustainability and an experienced fact: namely that humans take care of a beautiful city and pretty buildings – and to take care, that is the essence of sustainability,” concludes Kristoffersen.

Web: www.pka.no Facebook: PKAArkitekter Instagram: @pkaarkitekter LinkedIn: company/pka-arkitekter

Lilleakerbyen – a new, vibrant and sustainable district in Oslo

The construction industry is behind 40 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions, waste, and the use of energy and material resources. At a time when we know how important sustainability is to preserve our planet for the future, LPO architects aims to change the game through new ways of reusing old materials, turning old into new.

The Oslo-based architecture firm has already transformed large spaces such as Vervet in Tromsø, and Vulkan and Sørenga in Oslo. From old, run-down and unfriendly areas filled with traffic, storage containers and very little to offer visitors, LPO architecture has turned them into vibrant spaces filled with people, culture, restaurants, arts and life. They’ve become tourist destinations and sought-after residential and social areas – places people want to live in and visit.

The vibrant Lilleakerbyen One of the firm’s current projects is at Lilleaker, a part of greater Oslo, right on the border between Oslo and Bærum. This area has an old industrial history, but today it’s defined by offices and a dark shopping centre completely disconnected from its surroundings. The project, dubbed Lilleakerbyen, aims to tie the two suburban parts of the city together and create a lively district for both living and working. “The project was commissioned by family-owned company Mustad Eiendom and developed in collaboration with Civitas, A-Lab and Leonard Design. The intention is to cultivate the identity and distinctiveness of the area, turning it into a lively, welcoming and accessible place filled with residential housing, commercial trade, working spaces, sports and culture – a community with great living spaces and social arenas.”

“Lilleakerbyen will be a destination, a place people would like to visit. We want to create a district of Oslo that is vibrant and full of life both day and night,” says Hilde Lillejord, communications advisor at LPO.

Part of the project vision is about opening up the shopping centre, moving the shops outside and into classic pedestrian streets with restaurants, cosy cafés and parks. To achieve this, traffic and deliveries to the shops are moved underground,

The culture quarter.

leaving the green pedestrian zones completely car-free.

Making sustainability a priority For the project team, the environmental sustainability of the building process is the top priority, along with limiting the level of CO2 emissions. As much of the original building material as possible is kept and reused, whether a building is being demolished, rebuilt or otherwise transformed.

“If brand-new materials are necessary, we seek to use sustainable sources and materials with a low environmental footprint, low maintenance and high durability,” says Lillejord.

Another key priority has been that any new building mass should consist of materials that can be reused in future reconstruction. In addition, the project team is continually researching, exploring and utilising new methods and materials to reduce their impact on the climate. The aim is a 50 per cent cut in energy emissions, focusing on new solu-


tions in materials, transport and ways to produce energy.

The architectural solution will be based on the area’s industrial history and will bridge the past and the future. “The team was inspired by the industrial history, but the main goal is to create architecture that has a long life span. This will highlight the historical heritage, yet the architecture will always reflect the era in which it was created,” says Lillejord.

Lilleaker is located near the transport hub of Lysaker train and bus station, providing easy access from the surrounding areas. A new subway line out of central Oslo, Fornebubanen, is under construction and a subway station at Lilleakerbyen is part of the plan. “This way, the project can facilitate an area where the preferred method of arrival will be public transport, walking and cycling, rather than by car,” Lillejord adds.

The project aims to facilitate social interaction between people of different aspects of society, with lots of accessible social arenas such as the river bank of Lysakerelven as well as new public squares. Buildings will actively define the streets, and the ground floors will feature functions that bring vibrant city life to the area.

As such, Lilleakerbyen is sustainably creating a vibrant and colourful district, boosting people’s quality of life – a good place both to live and to spend time in.

Location: Oslo, Norway Team: LPO architects, Civitas, A-lab and Leonard Design Client: Mustad Eiendom Number of new apartments: 2,300 Total gross area: 430,000 square metres Construction start: 2022

Read more about Lilleakerbyen at: Web: www.lilleakerbyen.no/livet-ililleakerbyen/

Illustration of the flow of life in the district.

Lillaker Square.

The main street.

Web: lpo.no/prosjekter/lilleakerbyen

The Økern area in Oslo.

Transforming negative spaces into positive places

All cities have some negative places: those lost, unattractive areas where people simply do not want to be. It takes a special breed of architect to find the opportunities in these unwanted locations and transform them into something attractive and enticing.

Reaktor AS is an urban design architecture firm based in Oslo that possesses this rare quality. “The name Reaktor was chosen because we react to negative spaces in cities, with ideas that will transform these into positive places where people want to live, work and relax,” says Helge Aarstad, civil architect, CEO and founder.

Økern urban renewal project The Økern area in Oslo, which is located right next to a trainline and underground station, is one of the areas that has been seen as a negative space – unappealing and lacking in purpose. Reaktor AS has been creating a new, enticing connection between the underground station and Økern’s residential, commercial and retail areas. It features a park, designed to draw light into the core of a new multi-storey building above the underground station. The design will also improve accessibility, create cross-connections, and enable 24-hour activity.

“This design will bring the different Økern functions together as there will be no barriers,” says Aarstad. “When you exit the subway station, you’ll walk towards the sun and the park, which we have designed as a ‘pocket park’, inspired by New York’s High Line.”

Skøyenbakken 10 residential extension Another project where Reaktor AS had to get creative with a negative space is a residential project at Skøyenbakken. The client wanted to alter their home so that they could continue to live there for the rest of their life. As such, it was important to have all the main functions on the ground floor.

To do this, Reaktor AS designed an extension that fits into an otherwise unwanted area. It provides both a contrast to the main building and an enhancement to the garden. It’s made of rustic materials and features climbing plants, which grow across the walls.

“The new space doesn’t compete with the main building but offers a contrast and a

modern feel, which works very well with the garden. It is made from concrete both inside and out, with oak details. The idea is that the black façade will be a part of the garden,” Aarstad explains.

The complicated and the complex The complicated, the complex, and the sometimes-tricky projects are those that appeal to the Reaktor team the most – challenges where creativity is needed to make it work.

“There can be many barriers to a good outcome, such as local authority rules, neighbours, laws and other restrictions. These force us to think hard about what we can do with what is available to us. In summary, we look at the negative areas and find ways to make them positive places for people,” Aarstad explains. “For example, many would find it difficult to make an urban railway track look attractive. But we think about what makes it great, like the fact that it brings places and people together, and that it’s a part of the community.”

Clients are a part of the creative process The architecture firm was established in 2016 and has a diverse team of six. With different backgrounds and experiences, they generate ideas but also possess all the skills needed for efficient and professional project delivery. Clients have commented that they feel included in the creative process, with the small team able to respond quickly to emerging customer requirements.

“You have to be flexible and listen to both your team and the customer or the partners. Because we are such a small organisation, we have to have a good network and a good way of communicating,” says Aarstad. When creating a new space, sustainability is important for the Reaktor team. They want to create designs that are robust over time, and that can handle more transformation. “We want to be able to look at our projects in ten years’ time and see that they continue to develop in ways aligned with the transformation process that Reactor AS created at the beginning,” the CEO and architect concludes.

Web: www.reaktor.as Facebook: reaktorene

Skøyenbakken 10. Kjølhalstien.

Skøyenbakken 10. Skøyenbakken 10.

Photo: Sindre Ellingsen

A story of love, a treehouse and being close to nature

The story of Woodnest is a true love story. Almost from the moment Kjartan set eyes on Sally, he knew that he wanted to build her a treehouse to propose in. Fast forward a few years, and the couple are happily married. And the treehouse? Well, that has turned into Woodnest, and now everyone can have their own little fairytale in the most magical surroundings in the small Norwegian town of Odda.

Nestled between two of Norway’s largest national parks, Hardangervidda and Folgefonna in Odda, you’ll find Woodnest. Tucked away from the hustle and bustle of city life, it offers a magical experience. Imagine sipping your morning coffee while enjoying breathtaking views of the fjord, taking a hot shower surrounded by nature in a treehouse – and no need to leave the nest, because all your comfort and adventure is right there, within the 15 square metres, five metres above the ground.

“From the intricate details of the outward structure to running your fingers along the fine woodwork interior, and of course the stunning views, we want our guests to gasp, ’Wow!’,” enthuse Kjartan and Sally Aano, the owners of Woodnest. “Together with Norwegian architects Helen & Hard, we put great effort and attention to detail into making these treehouses one-of-a-kind designs in authenticity and originality.”

But despite being in the middle of wild nature, this is far from a camping experience. In fact, you will enjoy a high level of comfort. Take a relaxing, warm shower, use a normal flushing toilet, brew a fresh cup of coffee and cook your dinner in the small kitchenette – all this, up in one tree top.

“For us, it is about sharing this love for a childhood dream of a treehouse with others and giving them an experience that will last a lifetime,” says Sally Aano.

A proposal turned small family business As if the architecture, the magnificent views overlooking the fjord, and the pure experience in itself of staying in a treehouse were not enough, the story of Woodnest is one filled with the kind of love that will touch even the most unromantic of hearts.

Kjartan and Sally Aano met at a wedding in Australia. Kjartan had never been to Australia before, and he only spent three weeks there. When he saw Sally at the wedding dinner, he couldn’t take his eyes off her. The groom noticed this, and he made sure that the two of them got to

dance. Unfortunately for Kjartan, dancing is not exactly his forte, so that proved to be a rather embarrassing experience. But luckily for him, Sally still found him interesting the next day. They started to talk about the film The Bucket List and decided to write their own.

“I had written that I wanted to sleep or live in a treehouse. Kjartan had written that he wanted to build a treehouse. We were shocked that we both had something so specific in common,” says Sally Aano.

At that moment, Kjartan thought to himself that if he were to ever marry this woman, he would build her a treehouse to propose in.

After a year of long-distance romance, Sally took the plunge and moved all the way from Australia to Norway to be with the love of her life. Kjartan had secretly started to work on a treehouse in the woods, and Sally, who had no idea what was going on, got a bit frustrated that he was never at home – but then, one day, something magical happened.

Right there in the woods, ten metres above the ground in the self-made original treehouse, she gave him her ’yes’. And from there, Woodnest grew organically. Friends and family wanted to see the treehouse, and the newly married couple started to dream about sharing it with others and making it into a business.

“We had no experience of starting up businesses, and managing to finance the project required a miracle in itself, but we were willing to take a risk to see a dream come true and do something we love. We would not have done it if it wasn’t for each other. We are very good at cheering each other on,” say the couple, who are now busy planning the next two treehouses, which will be finished by the summer of 2022.

Photo: Tor Hveem

Woodnest is located in Odda, Norway. There are currently two treehouses. The drawings for two more are finished, and they are expected to be ready by the summer of 2022.

Web: www.woodnest.no Facebook: Woodnest Treehouse Instagram: @_woodnest_ Architects: Helen & Hard

Photo: Tor Hveem Photo: Sindre Ellingsen

Domus Medica, University of Oslo. Rådhuskvartalet, Kristiansand.

HRTB arkitekter: transform and inspire

HRTB Arkitekter design and work across a broad range of projects, including housing, urban planning, healthcare, research, education and commercial projects, covering construction as well as urban planning projects all across Norway. The firm fuses traditional Norwegian architectural qualities with modern, sustainable architecture, creating innovative and distinctive projects for a broad spectrum of public and private sector clients.

Originally founded in 1961 by three young architects, following a first-prize win in a major urban planning competition, HRTB has many years’ experience of designing and working across a myriad of projects. The Oslo-based firm now has ten partners and a total of 28 staff.

“At HRTB, we work across many different sectors, but our values shine through in each and every project, whether an apartment building in central Oslo, a research centre or a healthcare project in rural Norway,” says Harald Lone, partner and architect at HRTB. Despite working on a wide range of project types, the firm’s design approach is similar for each project. The first things they take into consideration are the location and the context, and then they design buildings with respect for the surrounding environment, which are simultaneously of their own time.

“We try to find out what the significant elements are in each area, and then create new buildings where we link the surrounding environment and historical context with a modern, calmly confident architecture,” says Lone. “We also like our projects to have a distinct element. It could be the way an entrance sequence is created, the colours or the choice of materials – something that catches the eye a little bit, but without being too much.”

It’s important that the projects have a certain distinctiveness, while at the same time avoiding being too dominating in their urban environment. HRTB always strives towards a balance between these two concerns: each project has a unique quality, yet is timeless and considerate of its context. “Our projects do stand out, and they are recognisable. Even the most modest project will be designed with creativity and innovation. We aim to design projects that are both transformative and balanced,” explains Lone.

Sustainable and inclusive projects Throughout the design process, there’s one more thing the architects at HRTB always try to keep in mind: inclusivity. Many

people will either walk past or live their daily lives within these buildings, and it’s important to HRTB that the projects are a cause for happiness and joy in people’s everyday lives.

“We always try to look closely at both the community and the surrounding buildings in order to develop something that will actually fit in with that community. Being as inclusive as possible is important to us – it’s that constant balancing act between being modern and forward-looking while also maintaining the utmost respect for the context and the wider community,” says Lone.

When thinking of contemporary and innovative buildings, most people naturally also think of sustainability – and HRTB has a leader in this field. “Sustainability is at the forefront of what we do. We have to design and build in a sustainable way,” says Lone. The goal is to use as few resources as possible: firstly, by designing space-efficient buildings, and secondly, by developing efficient but elegant construction principles, then closely collaborating with building contractors to find sustainably sourced materials. But sustainability is not just a question of technical solutions; it’s also an architectural design approach.

Environmental design is often a case of design integration, something that requires clear architectural organisation – and clear design thinking. “We try to almost integrate – or at least think – nature into the projects. This could, for instance, be expressed in the design of a roof garden, which is a wonderful way of bringing an element of nature into an urban environment. We have also designed one of Norway’s first biosolar roofs, an innovative solution that combines a green roof with solar energy technologies – nature and technology working together,” Lone explains.

Thinking sustainably also means designing projects that use as little energy as possible. HRTB has designed and completed several building projects with BREEAM environmental certification and Nordic Swan Eco Label certification, as well as several Passive House, low-emission and ’massivtre’ (solid cross-laminated timber) projects. The firm has also designed cuttingedge pilot projects for the Norwegian Government, supported by FutureBuilt and Framtidens Byer (Future Cities) programmes, and won several competitions with a focus on innovation and sustainability – this across an ever-expanding range of sectors.

Web: www.hrtb.no Facebook: HRTB Arkitekter

Siloen Oslo.

Tjuvholmen 86, Oslo.

Slemdalsveien Townhouses. FutureBuilt project, Brynseng Skole.

Photo: Tor Ivan Boine

Photo: Tor Ivan Boine

Bringing value to communities through architecture

Aksetøy Arkitektur is a young architecture firm made up of a small team of committed and hard-working individuals. The company’s founder, André Aksetøy, started the business with a desire to create architecture that had people and nature in focus – buildings that would add value to communities and foster wellbeing.

ed to residential buildings, cabins and commercial projects. As a continually growing company, the team at Aksetøy Arkitektur is always looking ahead to the future, and currently has several zoning plans under development.

Although Aksetøy Arkitektur is based in Trondheim, they often work on building projects further afield, with recent projects based in the city of Oslo as well as on small, remote islands. The architecture firm often focuses on modern solutions and expressive, innovative designs

After André founded the company four years ago, the small team grew quickly, and the firm now employs 15 people. With employees who hold expertise in a range of different fields, the company has a high level of technical competence across disciplines, meaning that they’re able to deliver the best-quality work to their clients.

A varied roster of projects Since its start in 2017, the architecture firm has seen its fair share of interesting projects. Their work is mainly relat-

Photo: Tove Lauluten

that are well-tailored to the space and client they’re working with. Their varied portfolio of completed work ranges from office landscapes to a trendy bar and café in Oslo’s fashionable Grunerløkka, with plenty more interesting projects behind them.

The team recently completed an exciting housing project in central Oslo: Mariboes gate 14. This was an interesting project for the company, and one key consideration was the preservation of an older structure at the building site. “There was an old smithy on the property that needed to be preserved, so the building was therefore placed on top of it,” Aksetøy explains. In terms of design, the building is clad in light-grey brick with slightly warmer windows and framing, creating a pleasant visual balance. The building has 33 residential units with a communal planted roof garden featuring an upstream swimming pool, which is a fantastic bonus for residents, and the garden also benefits local birds and insects.

Residential cabin projects are a key focus for the team, and Sartskardvegen 310 is one such project. Located in Kvitfjell, a popular skiing region close to Lillehammer, this holiday home has a modern and innovative design. At 30 metres in length, the cabin has been well-integrated into the surrounding terrain, making the most of the stunning views of the area. Interestingly, leftover materials from the National Museum, which was being built at the same time as this cabin, were used in the construction.

The company is focused on sustainability both in terms of the environment and when it comes to people’s well-being, and this can be seen in most of their work. Innherredsveien 79 is a residential project in development in central Trondheim, where a key focus is on encouraging residents to get involved with growing plants. This is a modern build with integrated planting beds that residents can use to grow plants that will be beneficial for the health and well-being of those living there. The plants and greenery will also make the environment surrounding the site more pleasant to look at and spend time in, adding value to the lovely urban area.

Purposeful architecture with a focus on people and nature For Aksetøy and his team, the goal is to create architecture that takes the local communities into account, finding a harmony between buildings, the nature or landscape that surrounds them, and the people who spend time in them. “Our focus is on destination development that adds value to communities within a sustainability perspective,” he says. “We want to create architecture with a focus on people and nature that elevates its surroundings, both aesthetically and functionally. For us, architecture is to a large degree about emotions, and we’d like to add something new while also aiming to preserve feelings of nostalgia.” The dedicated team takes great care to see their projects through in a mindful way. Always starting from a specific idea, they’re focused on preserving that initial vision through a lengthy planning and building process. “We’re focused on giving ourselves the simplest prerequisites to succeed, starting with the simplest concepts and clearest ideas possible. As the project is gradually developed, it’s important to retain the central idea or the common thread,” Aksetøy explains. “Throughout the project, there’s also a continuous balance of contrasts, where it’s impossible to add anything new without diluting or reinforcing what is already there. This requires continuous work and focus on everything from minor details to the bigger picture.”

The team at Aksetøy Arkitektur’s wide-ranging experiences and willingness to take on a variety of different projects truly make the company one to watch when it comes to Scandinavian architecture firms. In terms of the firm’s goals for the future, the main focus will be on continuing to create great architecture that adds value to communities – with a continued emphasis on sustainability in their projects. “Our long-term ambition is to be seen as a reliable partner, and that we’ll continue to deliver great-quality projects. We’re also committed to keeping our focus on nature and biodiversity in our projects, but our end product must be good architecture,” Aksetøy concludes.

Web: www.oyark.no Instagram: @aksetoy_architecture

The team at Aksetøy Arkitektur.

Building for a better future

The award-winning architecture company LINK Arkitektur brings innovation and creativity to its diverse, multifaceted projects. With a philosophy focused on sustainability and adding value to spaces as well as people’s lives, LINK is creating architecture for the future.

With 500 employees spread across 15 cities in Norway, Denmark and Sweden, LINK Arkitektur is one of the world’s 50 largest architecture firms. Combining years of experience, deep industry expertise and a genuine passion for architecture and design, the team behind LINK has won a number of awards for its work.

Throughout all the varied work the company does, a central theme emerges: LINK is always looking ahead to the future. “LINK creates architecture for tomorrow. People live and socialise in the environments we design,” says Grethe Haugland, CEO of the Norway division of LINK Arkitektur. “In all our projects, the vision is to create spaces for better living. We are people-focused and strive to create good environments for the users.”

A focus on sustainability In the field of architecture, sustainable building practices have long been a key focus. But LINK Arkitektur has taken its passion for sustainable architecture a step further than most. “Sustainability is no longer about having the smallest possible footprint – it’s about achieving the greatest possible effect with the resources you have. Combining ambitious goals for energy and environmental impact with good architecture, good floor plans, and certainly the social aspect, requires topnotch planning tools,” Haugland explains.

In a bid to facilitate positive changes, the architecture firm has developed its own tool: LINK Compass, comprising all the UN sustainable development goals, selecting those that will make the biggest impact in the specific project, and focusing on making it easier to build sustainable architecture.

Diverse, fascinating projects With ambitious leaders at its helm and a strong team of committed employees, LINK is a productive firm that handles around 2,000 projects per year. Among a wide selection of interesting recent projects, a few stand out.

Architect Per Erik Aadland at LINK Arkitektur created the newly opened Nullmeteroverhavet (‘ZeroMetreAboveSeaLevel’), which aims to allow as many people as possible to enjoy Norway’s stunning coastal landscape without damage to the natural environment. The project consists of small, simple cabins erected along the coast, accessible either by walking through the natural landscape or by kayaking or travelling by a small boat across the water.

Stovnertårnet is another recent project that is important to LINK, having won the title of Norway’s most inclusive innovation project in the category of landscape architecture in 2020. The tower functions as a viewpoint and attracts visitors from Norway and beyond. The idea behind the tower, which is situated on historic ground and embedded into the natural environment around it, is that it should be easily accessible for everyone.

Another exciting recent project was the feasibility study Destination Lauvvik. LINK took on the mission as a result of the tourist interest in the beautiful area of Rogaland, and demonstrated the significant opportunities of positioning Lauvvik as an attractive tourist destination with a low carbon footprint. Utilising the fantastic natural landscape surrounding the area, LINK created a comprehensive plan for destination spots, activities and much more.

Øvre Lynghaugen is a residential building designed by LINK’s Andreas Neumann Meyer. Located in a quiet spot at the top of a popular residential area in Bergen, the house will present a unique, modern expression while blending in well with its surroundings. The architects focused on creating a pleasant dynamic between the new build and the existing houses as well as the dramatic landscape in the surrounding area.

Transforming existing spaces rather than building new The architects at LINK are very aware of their role in handling the future global challenges, and they are focused on innovation and building a better future. “There will be increased focus on rebuilding and transforming existing buildings, within a sustainability perspective,” Haugland reveals.

“Architecture is about transformation, about changing the context of cities, places or buildings so that they can be preserved and filled with new life; transforming existing buildings and areas to promote better utilisation and new functions, giving old buildings a boost and filling them with new content – a change for the better,” she says.

LINK has considerable experience and a long tradition within these kinds of transformation projects, which are all about preserving and breathing new life into what we already have, before adding more buildings to the cityscape. The focus is on re-purposing and re-working rather than tearing down and building anew.

LINK’s key ambition is to create spaces that add value to society and to the people living in and around their spaces. Their architectural philosophy is not just about developing more sustainable solutions, but also about creating better lives for the people inhabiting these spaces.

“We believe that architecture can contribute to solving social issues and challenges, and several LINK projects have led to decreased levels of crime and increased security for residents,” Haugland says.

Web: linkarkitektur.com/no Facebook: linkarkitektur Instagram: @linkarkitektur LinkedIn: company/link-arkitektur-ab

Stovnertårnet, Oslo. Photo: Jiri Havran

Destinasjon Lauvvik, Sandnes. Photo: K2 Visual

Oslo University Centre.

Uncovering the enduring value in buildings

Is there value in old, discarded buildings? Absolutely, if you ask the team at Rebuilding Architects. This Oslo-based studio is passionately dedicating its practice to the transformation of purpose and architecture in existing buildings, transferring their inherent value into the future with the help of ingenious and creative design.

55 buildings are torn down every day in Norway – a senseless waste of materials and resources, according to Rebuilding Architects. Ida Winge Andersen, manager of the studio, discusses the need to reuse existing building structures to increase sustainability. “There’s always value in something that has already been built; it’s right there – time, energy and money have already been spent on building it once. In tearing it down, only to build something else from scratch, a huge amount of material, concrete, steel, glass, not to mention history, goes to waste,” she says. “The construction sector is behind approximately 40 per cent of global CO2 emissions, and we believe that one way to reduce that number is to restore and develop existing buildings, which also helps to preserve the legacy of the building, as well as its surroundings, for generations to come.”

Founded in 2015 and consisting of a tightknit team of eight enthusiastic individuals, the studio is passionate about changing the world for the better with the help of creative thinking and clever solutions.

Restoring historical and commercial value Working with existing buildings means building styles from a vast timespan are on the drawing board: stretching from the beginning of the 20th century until the 2000s, it means that different methods need to be applied, all depending on the current condition and whether the building is listed or not. While listed buildings are more strictly tied to regulations, they also provide a unique opportunity to bring forth history in exciting ways, while unlisted buildings provide greater freedom to venture into the unknown and make radical changes.

But on some occasions, it’s the subtle adjustments that make all the difference. “One of our projects is an office building from 2008 that didn’t manage to attract any businesses. Small alterations made a huge difference: by introducing a canopy marking a new main entrance, along with reorganising and gathering all the common areas into an open ground floor, constructing a new staircase to al-

Renovated staircase at Lysaker Torg, a renovated office building.

low easy access to a new bicycle parking space in conjunction with the car parking space, along with other small adjustments, we managed to inject new life into the building and create an attractive workspace,” says Winge Andersen.

Silurveien is another project underway, where an old telephone exchange building is set to become a supreme location for apartments. The project is centered around fresh ideas for how to turn an industrial building from the ‘80s into a climate friendly, unique living space for the residents. “We believe in using local material as much as possible. What do we have around us that could provide quality to this project? What’s hiding, quite literally, inside the walls, and what could we utilise that is readily available in our part of the world?” Winge Andersen asks. “Local materials like timber, brick and stone, plus products and furniture designed and manufactured locally, are some of the features we try to implement as much as we can.” Bridging past, present and future The importance of history is present throughout all the firm’s projects, which means that they work closely with antiquarian authorities to ensure that a responsible restoration is undertaken. While the future purpose holds an obvious importance during the restoration process, the original function of a building is also an essential aspect in creating a wholesome context.

Turbinveien, a listed bath house from the 1920s, is one project where in-depth knowledge about its original purpose was fundamental to enabling a sensible restoration of its existing structure. Minimal changes were allowed to the façade, which instead brought the focus to the interior, where mezzanines, increased ceiling height and cleverly constructed staircases aligned to create unique apartments on a historical site.

Another project currently in the works is the revitalisation of Oslo University Centre. Several listed buildings from the ‘60s are set to be restored and developed, turning the area into the main hub and heart of the campus. Careful reinterpretations of their original shape, along with extensions to the existing buildings, will lay the foundation for modern structures made to last, with the historical roots stretching far back.

“History is so important in creating coherence in a place. It creates purpose for the building and the people using it. History is a link between the past, the present and the future, and the more you know about it, the more mindful you can be about the architecture,” says Winge Andersen.

Indeed, when sustainability is key to creating a better future, remembering and preserving the best pieces of the past sounds like a good place to start.

Web: www.rebuilding.no Instagram: @rebuilding.no

Staircase in Turbinveien, a renovated public bath.

Turbinveien, a renovated public bath. Entrance to Lysaker Torg, a renovated office building.

Fogo Island Inn. Photo: Bent René Synnevåg

Spectacular creations in tune with nature

Saunders Architecture is the much-accoladed architecture firm where Todd Saunders leads an international team with some carefully picked projects taking place across the world. Having spent nearly half his life in Bergen, Norway, after leaving his homeland Canada, his contribution to architecture has resulted in countless awards and an impactful addition to more socially conscious and sustainable architecture.

highly sought-after studio. It’s home to a close-knit, international and multidisciplinary team with a great vision: to create harmonious interrelations between nature and architecture, where the natural landscape is intensified by human-built form.

Buildings fit for a president The projects span the globe and are carefully selected by the studio. Its clients need to have a focus on quality and an intent to create a better world. A healthy framework should permeate the project to allow sound decision-making in every regard. Having been ranked 89 on the top-100 list of the best architects in the world, the firm’s projects tend to

Circa 25 years ago and newly arrived in Bergen, Norway, Todd Saunders was one of few within the architecture community who were interested in ecological design. It was a subject very close to his heart, having graduated with both a bachelor degree and a master’s in architecture with a special focus on ecological community design, and he was up for the challenge. “Ecological design wasn’t on top of anyone’s list back then. And now, 25 years later, we have this great shift where the social aspect plays a key part – not only building sustainably, but also building to do good for communities and individuals alike,” says Saunders.

Saunders Architecture was founded and transformed into a multi-awarded and

Aurland lookout – a bridge passage built in wood, stunningly overlooking the fjords in Aurland, Norway – was named one of the seven new architectural wonders of the world by Condé Nast. Fogo Island Inn – a five-star hotel supremely located on the shores of Fogo Island in Newfoundland, Canada – has housed international celebrities and presidents alike. Private homes make another aspect of the portfolio, and stunning locations in combination with striking geometric forms have also paved way for international recognition as well as life-enhancing living spaces.

Nature and culture before architecture A staunch believer that positive change is propelled by good architecture, Saunders is turning his focus to philanthropic projects that have a positive impact. “We’re focusing on projects based on what they are giving back to the community. Fogo Island Inn is reinvesting its profits into the local population, and I’m working with a group of female entrepreneurs on Fedje Island, Norway, who are rebuilding an island community that has faced depopulation for a long time. It’s a stunning location that, along with its people, deserves a far greater destiny. We are focusing on the whole picture rather than a single destination – it’s the interaction between all elements where buildings are adapted in harmony with the landscape, and not the other way around, that will create a lasting impact,” says Saunders.

A hotel merged into the cliffs with the Norwegian sea swells rolling in below, along with a distillery and a park, is currently in the works. “I believe that nature and culture should come before architecture, and rather than occupying land with a man-made building we want to extend the natural landscape through our design and by the materials we use,” Saunders explains.

A future in the right direction Saunders sees architecture as a way to create a better world and views the process with a holistic approach: healthy deadlines make for healthy choices, creating elevated ideas that turn into ground-breaking buildings that feed back into the community. His social entrepreneurial spirit is also infused in his teaching at Yale University, where he hopes he can influence the students to do better. “I see such ambition from the next generation of architects – it’s a powerful shift from a male-dominated, egoist mindset to a curiosity about the social impact that the architecture can have on society.”

For someone who has been fortunate enough to see his many visions realised, is there still a dream project hovering on the horizon? “I would love to design a library in the forest – a destination to read, write and create, to disconnect from the digital and reconnect with the physical, the serenity inside and around you.” A place to dream about a better world, sprung from exceptional architecture, perhaps.

Todd Saunders is currently working with selected projects around the world while teaching at Yale University. The documentary StrangeandFamiliar, based on the firm’s work on Fogo Island, is available on NRKand iTunes. A selection of his most renowned projects have been compiled into a book written by Dominic Bradbury: New NorthernHouses, available now.

Web: www.saunders.no Instagram: @saundersarchitecture

Villa Grieg. Photo: Ivar Kvaal

Villa S. Photo: Bent René Synnevåg Villa Austevoll. Photo: Ivar Kvaal

Nordkapp badet is one of many public pools designed by se-arkitektur. To be located next to the town’s cinema and culture house, the pool is designed to help invigorate and utilise the city centre.

From cradle to grave – architecture that sustains a full life

The vision of the successful architecture firm se-arkitektur in Bergen, Norway, is a pragmatic yet complicated one: it’s about finding the path that creates joy for as many as possible – developers, users, municipalities and the surrounding neighbourhood. Based on the belief that buildings need to fit in both current and future settings, it entails a plan for new and alternative ways of living for all generations.

“When you start a project, you have a vision that you try to get down on paper. Then you try to get it out into the real world, and that’s where the great challenge lies, but also the great opportunity – the opportunity to create something that gives back to the society,” founder and partner of se-arkitektur, Stig Eide, says about his visions. “I’m quite a pragmatic person, and I see the whole process as architectural. When you start the feasibility study early in the process, you have lots of ideas, but at some point, you need to take it down to earth; it’s the practical part where you make it functional, take the theory and turn it into an actual use of space, and that’s part of the process as well.” Taking responsibility for the entire process, from feasibility studies to planning applications and construction, has in recent years become a trademark for se-arkitektur. Founded 20 years ago, the firm today employs 15 people with different backgrounds and has for the last three years included a dedicated planning department. This structure allows the firm to work within a wide range of sectors, from residential to industrial, healthcare and sports buildings.

From cradle to grave While se-arkitektur has a broad reach, one area has become a bit of a speciality for the firm, namely the design of public

pools and baths – probably because, says Eide, it was what he did his dissertation on. “Swimming facilities are actually incredibly complex to design – all you see is a big hall and a pool, but there are so many components you don’t see, but which are essential to the functionality of the structure,” he explains. “But I enjoy it; there’s something special about pools, you have all people coming there, from the very beginning of their life to the end. Swimming is something that can bring you joy throughout your entire life.”

Pragmatism is sustainable Part of Eide’s pragmatic vision is a desire to build a solid portfolio of happy clients who keep coming back. One of the ways of doing so is, he says, to produce buildings that are sustainable, solid and easy to maintain. “When it comes to the aesthetics, we go for the simple solutions,” he says. “We don’t want to complicate things, because that just means more things that they might have to change in the future. Aesthetics will change, but solid architecture and a pure form do not.”

At the beginning of 2021, se-arkitektur’s focus on sustainability led to the firm being certified as a so-called ‘eco lighthouse’ with the Miljøfyrtårn label, a certification awarded to companies that have proven their dedication to a list of environmental goals. “It’s about making the best of the building from cradle to grave, from the first steps in the planning process to the final use of the building,” explains Eide. One of the new focus areas brought about by the dedication to sustainable development is the reuse and restructuring of existing buildings. Recently, se-arkitektur completed the transformation of what used to be part of the University of Bergen into a large office building for the Norwegian public road administration.

Close and accountable Despite a steady increase in size, the close and continuous contact with clients is still at the heart of se-arkitektur. It runs from the very beginning of the planning phase through to the completion of the building, says the architectural manager of se-arkitektur’s planning department, Gro Borkner. “We have very short lines of communication in the organisation and keep close contact with clients all the way through, and it starts even before the planning application. It’s not just about the building, but about the whole neighbourhood, and when we make the planning application, we ensure all the pieces come together into one process.”

Involving planning specialists, engineers and architects throughout the whole process also means that the clients can find everything in one place, Borkner explains and rounds off: “It allows us to create a solution that gives us what the client wants, what the local authorities want, and what the community needs – in other words, the right building for the right place.”

Web: www.se-arkitektur.no Facebook: SE-Arkitektur AS

Finished in 2015, Sunnmørsbadet includes a 25-metre pool, a wave and children’s pool, a cafeteria, hot tubs, and a second-floor fitness facility with views over the water facilities.

Konglen is a pinecone-shaped pod, which serves as an overnight cabin, suspended in a spruce tree in Bergen, Norway.

Holistic craftsmanship

For Norway-based UTMARK Arkitektur, sustainability, collaboration and the conscious use of materials are at the core of their beliefs. From quirky designs (a pinecone-shaped cabin in a spruce tree, anyone? Yes, please!) to restoration projects, UTMARK embraces the future while staying true to the past.

UTMARK’s architects – Jacob Schroll, Guro Rød Alver, Ingvild Garford Bennett and Helge Samuelsen – have combined their knowledge of what true craftsmanship looks like with their goal to develop sustainable architecture that will stand the test of time. “Around 80 per cent of the buildings of the future have already been built. Our mission is not always to build new things from scratch, but to transform these existing buildings and reinvent them,” says Schroll.

As an architecture firm, they are not afraid to push boundaries, but functionality and sustainability are always at the forefront of all their designs, from housing to industrial and public buildings, urban development and transformation areas. UTMARK Arkitektur incorporates wood into its designs whenever possible, and many of the projects include extensions to existing buildings. The architects have first-hand experience of carpentry, which has further enabled them to take a hands-on approach with their projects. “In all our projects, we strive for sustainability in both material and site adaptation. A holistic approach and environmentallyfriendly solutions are important in everything we do,” Schroll adds.

The intersection between old and new UTMARK’s latest project, Konglen, is a pinecone-shaped pod that serves as an overnight cabin, suspended in a spruce tree in Bergen, Norway. The cabin is made of spruce and pine, and it can accommodate two adults and two children. “In this project, we focused on the detail and the materials. Some of the wood had to be exposed to hot steam for an hour in order for it to be soft enough to bend around the structure. As with all our projects, its longevity was an important aspect for us to consider. As time goes by, the roof shavings will be influenced by nature and will eventually blend into the surroundings,” says Schroll.

A recent collaborative project between UTMARK Arkitektur and Oslo-based architecture firm Saaha is Skomakerstuen, which was nominated for EUMiesAward in 2021. Located in mount Fløyen, Bergen, the building’s unique shape incorporates the surrounding nature in its design, and every detail has a purpose. “This project is all about creating a dynamic shape that adapts to the landscape and at the same time has a tranquil, good atmosphere.”

Inside Konglen, guests can enjoy views of trees, mountains and the Atlantic ocean.

Chopping logs for restoration work at Bryggen, a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site. Photo: Roger Knutsen

One of UTMARK’s specialities is incorporating their understanding of traditional construction by rethinking and repurposing old features into new and sustainable designs. They try to reuse and reinvent old designs and constantly keep their sights firmly on the future. “Our designs are not created as quick fixes; we are focused on how well the design will age, and how we can make its look and also its function relevant for years to come,” says Samuelsen. Hands-on approach “For us, a building’s functionality is a key aspect of the design. We might look at an old building and figure out ways in which to adapt it to current standards and requirements. It’s about finding a healthy balance between respecting the old, and using modern techniques and knowledge to add layers to that,” explains Alver.

In addition to original designs, UTMARK’s repertoire also includes a number of restoration projects. One of these is a warehouse building, Bellgården, in Bryggen, Bergen, which is a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site. The old warehouse building dates back to the 1760s. “This project is a collaboration with the company Gamle3Hus. With this particular project, we needed to bring the old building up to today’s standards without compromising on the antique qualities, which was challenging and exciting,” says Schroll.

With all its work, UTMARK Arkitektur values building a close rapport with clients and contractors. “Building a close relationship with our clients also means we are able to better understand their needs. Where possible, we also aim to collaborate directly with the craftsmen and manufacturers in our projects,” Schroll adds.

It is clear that the architects take great pride in the quality and holistic understanding of architecture, as well as construction. “Understanding all facets and details is essential to our approach to architecture,” Bennett concludes.

UTMARK Arkitektur reinvented an old log house, Sirihuset. Skomakerstuen’s unique wooden roof flows with the surrounding landscape. Photo: Frank Robert Webermann

Web: www.utmark-arkitektur.no Instagram: @utmark_arkitektur

The Mikado Suite at Grand Hotel Oslo.

Nordre Åsen palliative care home for children and their families.

The dream factory

– the power of stunning colour palettes and strong patterns

Christine Hærra, who always aspired to be a stylist, started her impressive 19-year career right after her studies in interior design and visual merchandising. Over time, her work has expanded to include interior design, and while she often works for private clients, her extensive portfolio also includes public spaces like hotels, restaurants and care homes.

“Today, I mainly focus on interior design, and the majority of my projects are private homes,” explains Hærra. Her work takes her all over the country. “We have a lot of old heritage homes in Norway, and they traditionally have a lovely variety of colours and patterns. It is important to me to respect the style the house represents.”

A new project starts with an interview with the client to find out what they expect from the end result, and whether they have preferences for colours and materials. “I spend time getting to know the clients, and their likes and dislikes,” Hærra continues. “During longer projects, I often grow close to them. An extensive farmhouse project with several buildings, for example, can last for months, or even years.”

Hærra studies the history of each house and the period it dates back to. “These homes are meant for living, so mod-cons are installed, but always with respect for the past,” she explains. This is achieved by including the history of the building in her design, which uses styles, colours and patterns typical for the era in question. In the end, all this information is gathered into sketches, colour and textile sheets, together with a proposal for furniture and lighting. “I am very fond of solutions for floor plans – it’s like a puzzle, and it always feels fantastic when all the pieces find their place.”

Hærra is also concerned with sustainability of materials and furniture. “I believe that it is worth investing in quality materials and furniture, which last for many generations. Old pieces can really liven up a space, and it’s great to be able to give old furniture a new life. This can be achieved with any budget. You can get good second-hand furniture for the price of newly produced furniture.”

Hærra also delivers turn-key projects, where she coordinates the renovation from start to finish. “I work with a professional team of highly skilled carpenters and painters,” she says, adding that this passion and dedication has contributed to long-standing relationships with many clients. “I love it when I get a message

from them even a year after the project, saying that they appreciate the space they live in and enjoy inviting people there. Much of my business comes from repeat clients and direct referrals.”

Hærra wants to pass on her knowledge and vast experience, and she teaches at two different design schools. Her subjects include the historical interior design periods, where she is an expert in her field, and also photo styling, composition and other interior designrelated subjects. “I love to teach. I learn new things every day myself, and it is a pleasure to share that with my students. I want to teach my students good craftsmanship, like composition – so important in both interior design and styling.”

Well-known projects Hærra also boasts large public projects in her portfolio, like the recent project for Norway’s first palliative care home for children. “This project was close to my heart. The focus was on creating such an atmosphere where families can feel safe and comfortable while they go through that hard time.” Another well-known project encompassed the colourful suites at Grand Hotel Oslo, which soon became the most popular rooms at the hotel.

Hærra believes that a well-designed space can give something to all of the senses, and she prefers to use natural materials like cotton, wool and linen. “Natural materials have a completely different feel, smell and texture to artificial materials. Often natural materials also last longer and just get more characterful as time passes,” she explains.

Public buildings naturally come with strict health and safety guidelines, but Hærra does not see this as a problem. “All guidelines need to be met, but I always teach my students that it is as important to make it look and feel lovely – you can’t take any shortcuts there.”

Interior designer Christine Hærra.

Dreams at the dream factory Next year, Hærra is celebrating the 20th anniversary of her career. The name of her company is Drømmefabrikken, ‘the dream factory’. Asked about her own dreams, she contemplates that she is very satisfied with the situation she finds herself in today. “I get to work with my dream projects and I often have a lot of freedom, and I find that very rewarding. Perhaps one dream would be to design a whole boutique hotel. I am open to new challenges and always give my best to every project.”

Web: www.christinehaerra.no Facebook: Drømmefabrikken as Instagram: @ilovepolkadot

The interior architects with many hats

In the past year and a half, maximising the cosiness and comfiness of our homes has become more important than ever. With that, the nature of interior design is also shifting towards a focus on more functional spaces with softer features. Norwegian company CAIAX is not afraid to push the boundaries when it comes to interior architecture. For them, collaboration with architects is the key to creating cohesive spaces that can be likened to pieces of art.

For Linn Aamodt, interior design is all about the details. Her company, CAIAX, was founded in 2014. The company’s extensive repertoire of projects ranges from houses to luxury cabins, offices and restaurants. Despite working across a wide range of projects, CAIAX still manages to inject its own signature into the work. Aamodt describes the firm’s style as “classical, with a hint of rock vibes”. Interior architects play an important part in complementing the architecture. “Interior architecture involves a lot more than just picking cushions and wallpaper,” Aamodt says. Very early on in the process, she and her team work together with architects. In addition, they work closely with plumbers, electricians and carpenters, and it is clear that CAIAX has refined the art of multitasking. “As interior architects, we have to be able to wear several hats. We need to have the ability to collaborate with all the people involved in each project, and be able to juggle several moving parts,” Aamodt explains.

From having a solid understanding of construction and building practices, the interior architects also make decisions on acoustics, materials, finishes and colours, all the way down to minute details. Interior design is about how spaces are experienced, and how they feel. “Our job is to enhance the way spaces are utilised. We are all about our clients being able to maximise the enjoyment of whatever space we are working on,” says Aamodt. “Sometimes, our clients have a pretty clear picture of what they would like, but

they struggle to create a cohesive solution that works throughout. That’s where we come in, and make sure they don’t have to worry about anything.”

It’s all in the details To a large extent, the design elements indoors are what set the mood and vibe of a place, and that’s why to CAIAX, the minute details make an opportunity to really let their talent shine. One of the firm’s recent projects is Tunheims Lodge, with highend cabins in Vanylvs Fjord, on the west coast of Norway. The client wanted to create three cabins with three distinct looks: one with a maritime vibe, one with an Argentinian edge, and a third that would be reminiscent of a 19th-century fishing log cabin. “We rose to the challenge immediately,” Aamodt says, clearly proud of the project. “At first, it seemed like it would be difficult to create a cohesive ensemble with quite a mis-matched idea. But I feel we managed to create a final product where all three cabins have a unique feel, yet it all works well together, too.”

Perhaps the biggest challenge, according to Aamodt, was giving slight hints and nudges to the theme for each cabin, but without making it garish or blatantly obvious.

After an initial consultation with a client, CAIAX gets to work with the numerous contractors, while constantly liaising with the architects. “We work closely with our clients throughout the process. Our aim is to create visually pleasing and functional spaces, and to work alongside the architects to do so. At times, it can be difficult for our clients to see the whole picture, so we fine-tune their ideas.”

It is clear that CAIAX’s many years’ experience, as well as the team’s keen eye for details, have allowed them to perfect the art of creating visually pleasing places. Currently, the firm is working on a ski chalet in Hemsedal in Norway. The space is unique – and with eight-metre-high ceilings, there is a lot of room to create something wonderful.

What’s in store for the future of interior architecture? Aamodt sees a shift from bold features and symmetry towards softer, rounder features. “Perhaps it’s a symptom of the softer life many of us are striving for,” she says, laughing.

Web: www.caiax.no Instagram: @caiaxinteriordesign

Photo: At Wallpaper via private client

Long-lasting Norwegian design

Norwegian design is where nature and functionality work seamlessly together. The varying nature of the country can be harsh, sometimes ruthless, and at the same time radiate warmth and comfort. Norwegians would never live without nature, and their homes will show you exactly that.

Norwegians are known for their humble, minimalist, simple design, but if you look closer, you’ll notice that their homes boldly represent their personality and way of life.

Functionality, sustainability, and highquality materials are keywords in Norwegian design according to interior architect and furniture designer Andreas Andersen from At Wallpaper, an Oslobased interior design firm. The firm was established in 2012 and has a team of 11 people, including everything from interior architects to construction consultants.

Design built around your personality Functionality and long-lasting solutions are the most important aspects of creating a home and also make up At Wallpaper’s main values. With its interdisciplinary team, At Wallpaper offers expertise in interior as well as furniture design. They will help you through the entire process, from initial idea to finished product, whether you are based in Norway or elsewhere in the world.

Andersen’s current project is a good example. He is working on a newly developed house in Sandefjord, but the client lives in London, and all communication goes through email and virtual meetings. The main goal, Andersen explains, is to make sure that the design is not only aesthetically pleasing, but also highly functional for this year and many years to come. “Functionality is the foundation of any design we do, and we combine that with your personality,” he says.

Subconscious well-being The way Andersen works with his clients is very much like a long interview. “I need to get to know them to be able to create their personal, comfortable space,” he explains. “There are many aspects that contribute to your well-being. Many are things you wouldn’t even think about. Like where does the afternoon sun come in? Or what is the most important part to highlight in the living room: the TV or the art collection?”

At Wallpaper will not only help you create your dream space, but also find the right materials to fit your personal needs. Whether you need a piece of custommade furniture or a full house renovation, you can expect to get the job done in line with your personal requirements.

Web: www.atwallpaper.no Facebook: atwallpaper Instagram: @atwallpaper

Top left: Retro Bergen. Bottom left: Retro Mathesongården Trondheim. Right: Ekornes Stressless Studio, one of 4,000 new ‘Stressless Studios’ being rolled out worldwide. Photo: Kristin Støylen. Bottom right: Suit department at Retro Mathesongården Trondheim.

Delivering design concepts from A to Å

Driv Design delivers the full package of a tailor-made interior design concept, from conceptual brainstorming to the final flourishes, using high-quality, locally-sourced furnishing. The keywords? Functionality, approachability and exceptional design.

17 years ago, Åse Fet and Karl Magnus Eriksen moved out of the city with a dream. The relocation from Oslo to Sykkylven, a fjord-side village where the primary industry is furniture manufacturing, marked the birth of Driv Design: a design studio that specialises in individualised design and full-scale furnishing for independent boutiques. From this small-town base, they collaborate with businesses all over Norway, from Kristiansand to Tromsø, developing a design concept that suits the client’s needs, and implementing the interior concept from start to finish.

“We appreciate the contrasts, but definitely need an urban counterweight,” Fet notes when asked whether their natural surroundings are a source of inspiration. This is evident in the designs, which combine clean, Scandinavian lines and robust materials with a glossiness found in the high-end boutiques of London and New York. “As long as you live close to an airport, the whole world is easily accessible.”

But that doesn’t mean that their location isn’t central to their work. “We’re very focused on using local, Norwegian producers,” says Eriksen. This ensures sustainability, along with their focus on functionality and furnishings that last. A client once told them they produce “approachable design” – design that truly works – and this is something Fet says distinguishes Driv Design.

The company’s small size, focus on local production and practical design solutions have resulted in enduring partnerships with clients and suppliers, whom they work with intensively for several months. Many of these clients hire Driv Design over and over again, whether to refresh a shop they fitted 15 years ago or design new locations. One partner they’ve worked with from the very beginning is the fashion house Retro. They are especially proud of the most recent of Retro’s Trondheim locations, a three-storey clothing store that opened in 2020 – their biggest project to date. Fet remarks that, although it was demanding, it was “incredibly exciting work in an inspiring building”.

Another notable client is furniture company Ekornes, with whom they have developed the flexible ‘Stressless Studio’. This design solution is one that has taken off internationally, with a roll-out of 4,000 new studios – the fruits of a long design process flown out across the globe.

Web: drivdesign.no Instagram: @drivdesign

Photo: Dag Sandven

A holistic solution and a new way of thinking

After several years in the industry, Michelsens saw the need in the market for a player who could deliver floors, doors and staircases produced from the same raw material. They saw the need for a holistic approach.

When planning their new house, most people begin with the kitchen or the bathroom. Those two rooms seem to be the most expensive and urgent to fix, so it makes sense to begin with them. Or does it?

What if we’ve gotten it all wrong from the beginning? What if the very way we think about interior design and the refurbishing of our house needs to be flipped on its head?

“If you are a painter, you start with the landscape before you paint the moon or the sun. It’s actually the same with a house, because it’s the flooring, the ceil-

Morten and Nina. Photo: Terje Andersen ing, the staircase and the doors that are the real furniture of the house, so those are the things you should pay more attention to,” explains Nina Michelsen.

Together with her husband, Morten Michelsen, Nina Michelsen founded the multidisciplinary company Michelsens in 2014. Located in Bergen, the couple boasted extensive experience from the design and wood industries and saw a different way of doing things in order to make the entire process easier for the clients. Instead of having to contact three different manufacturers when deciding on what type of floor, doors and perhaps staircase they need for their house, they can now go to Michelsens, who offer a more integrated solution.

“For some reason, I don’t see anyone else out there offering the same thing we do. Our approach is very holistic. It makes it

easier for our clients, but it also gives a better end result. By using the same raw material for all our products, you’ll get a more integrated look in your house. If you pick these things separately, although it’s the same material or sort, there is no guarantee that the doors will actually match the staircase. Everything we do is made of wood, and it’s as beautiful inside as it is outside,” says Nina Michelsen.

Michelsens also have a passion for compact living projects, where there is a focus on urbanisation, fewer square metres per inhabitant, a market need with growing demand and requirements for a higher degree of utilisation, multi-functionality, quality, craftsmanship and sustainability. They are constantly looking to work on new compact living projects.

They produce and deliver products with craftsmanship quality across all production stages, and the interior components are of high material quality. The tailor-made solutions for kitchens, wardrobes, shelf systems and more are 100 per cent unique and adapted to each client’s project with agreed qualities, surface treatments and details.

The conscious choice ‘Elements of wood’ is the name of the collection that Michelsens have been working on for years, launching earlier this year. It includes floors, doors, staircases, panels and tables. With the product collection, Michelsens want to be as attractive to the private market as to the professional market, where architecture offices are the main target audience. They aim to be a valuable partner within a market that shares their passion and understanding of the industry and end result.

The wood collection takes care of important details such as the matching colour of doorsills, steps and floors, with the same use of raw materials and surface treatment across all components. The idea is to showcase the perfection of nature and encourage sustainable interaction with the environment.

“Early on, we decided not to use plastic in our designs and products. We care about the environment, and that’s why we also use every last part of the wood, so nothing is wasted. Trees are more valuable than ever, not just because of the price, so we make a virtue out of explaining to our clients how unique each piece is, and how, if used correctly, it can tell its own story in a house,” Nina Michelsen explains.

The Norwegian interior design company imports its wood from FSC and PEFCcertified European forests that are sustainably managed, and the oil and glue used for its products comply with the strict European rules for a healthy indoor climate. Michelsens spends a lot of time working on those little details that customers only notice when using their products – but they never lose sight of the bigger picture. “As a customer of Michelsens, you will be assigned a dedicated team including a project manager, an interior architect and a technical draftsman, who follow your project all the way from the beginning and to the end. The team will take care of the entire process, keep you updated and manage continuous progress. We believe in a personal and passionate collaboration working towards a proud result, and we enjoy working closely together with our clients. It’s really a journey within design, processing, producing and installing,” Nina Michelsen concludes.

Photo: Terje Andersen

Web: www.michelsens.no Facebook: michelsensinterior Instagram: @michelsens_interior Pinterest: Michelsens

Photo: Dag Sandven Photo: Dag Sandven Photo: Terje Andersen

Saga Hotel.

Grand Hotel Oslo. Son Spa.

A one-stop shop for beautiful indoor spaces

Founded in 1983, Norway-based SIAS Contract specialises in creating aesthetic and functional environments for real estate, hotels and restaurants. Having worked with some of the biggest names in the Nordic countries, the company has no shortage of experience when it comes to delivering quality architectural solutions to businesses.

Having previously renovated hotels all over Europe, SIAS Contract has now returned to its roots and, over the past few years, has focused on projects in Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Finland. The company’s 11-strong team has extensive experience of architecture, design and project management, and they have worked with some of the biggest names in the industry, from real estate companies to hotel chains, as well as independent hotels.

From preparing technical drawings to overseeing the work of craftsmen, the team at SIAS Contract is happy to take the lead on any project. “Our clients know how to run their business. We know how to create the best atmosphere possible, which will keep their customers coming back again and again,” says SIAS Contract’s CEO, Marianne Wang-Polden.

Creating visually pleasing, functional spaces that serve the clients’ needs is of utmost importance to SIAS Contract. “For us, it’s all about assessing what the client’s business needs, and coming up with tailored solutions that support those needs,” Wang-Polden says.

In addition to this, the company takes great pride in building close connections with clients and contractors alike. To ensure the quality of the process, the firm finds it important to keep the clients actively involved throughout the process. From the initial planning stages through the design and all the way to delivery and implementation, the team is able to offer clients an all-round service.

“We are always at the forefront of new technology and modern, functional solutions. Our skilled project managers ensure the smooth running of all aspects of the projects. This means that our clients are able to take the back seat and focus on their business while we do the heavy lifting,” she concludes.

Scandic Stavanger Park.

Web: www.sias.net