Knut Hamsun Center
Steven Holl Architects
Knut Hamsun, Norway's most inventive twentieth-century
writer, fabricated new forms of expression in his first novel
Hunger. He went on to found a truly modern school of fiction with
his works Pan, Mysteries, and Growth of the Soil.
The recently inaugurated Hamsun Center, dedicated to Hamsun, is located above the Arctic Circle, near the village of Presteid of Hamarøy where the writer grew up.
The building is conceived as an archetypal and intensified
compression of spirit in space and light, concretizing a Hamsun
character in architectonic terms.
The concept for the museum, "Building as a Body: Battleground of Invisible Forces," is realized from inside and out. Here the wood exterior is punctuated by hidden impulses piercing through the surface: An "empty violin case" balcony has phenomenal sound properties, while a viewing balcony is like the "girl with sleeves rolled up polishing yellow panes."
Many other aspects of the building use the vernacular style as
inspiration for reinterpretation. The stained black wood exterior
skin is characteristic of the great wooden stave Norse churches. On
the roof garden, long grass refers to traditional Norwegian sod
roofs in a modern way.
The rough white-painted concrete interiors are characterized by
diagonal rays of light calculated to ricochet through the section
on certain days of the year. These strange, surprising, and
phenomenal experiences in space, perspective, and light provide an
inspiring frame for exhibitions.
The Center includes exhibition areas, a library and reading
room, a café, and an auditorium equipped with the latest film
projection equipment. Hamsun's writings have been particularly
inspiring to filmmakers, which is evident in the more than 17 films
based on his work.
Facts about Knut Hamsun Center
Guy Nordenson and Associates
LY Arkitekter AS
Vesa Honkonen Architects
Nordland Fylkeskommune (County)
Last updated: December 19, 2013