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Knut Hamsun Center
Steven Holl Architects

August 17, 2009 /

Hamaröy, Norway

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Photo: Nordland County Council / Tore Schöning Olsen

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.

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Photo © Steven Holl Architects

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Drawing courtesy Steven Holl Architects

The building is conceived as an archetypal and intensified compression of spirit in space and light, concretizing a Hamsun character in architectonic terms.

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

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Photo: Nordland County Council / Tore Schöning Olsen

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Photo: Nordland County Council / Tore Schöning Olsen

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Photo © Ernst Furuhatt - Salten Museum

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Photo: Nordland County Council / Tore Schöning Olsen

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.

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Photo: Nordland County Council / Tore Schöning Olsen

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Photo: Nordland County Council / Tore Schöning Olsen

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Photo: Nordland County Council / Tore Schöning Olsen

The rough white-painted concrete interiors are characterized by diagonal rays of light calculated to ricochet through the section on certain days of the year. These strange, surprising, and phenomenal experiences in space, perspective, and light provide an inspiring frame for exhibitions.

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Photo: Nordland County Council / Tore Schöning Olsen

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Photo © Steven Holl Architects

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Photo © Steven Holl Architects

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Photo: Nordland County Council / Tore Schöning Olsen

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Photo: Nordland County Council / Tore Schöning Olsen

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Photo: Nordland County Council / Tore Schöning Olsen

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Photo: Nordland County Council / Tore Schöning Olsen

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.

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Sketch courtesy Steven Holl ArchitectsSite Sketch


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Sketch courtesy Steven Holl Architects

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Drawing courtesy Steven Holl ArchitectsSite Plan


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Drawing courtesy Steven Holl ArchitectsGround Floor Plan


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Drawing courtesy Steven Holl ArchitectsFirst Floor Plan


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Drawing courtesy Steven Holl ArchitectsSecond Floor Plan


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Drawing courtesy Steven Holl ArchitectsThird Floor Plan


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Drawing courtesy Steven Holl ArchitectsFourth Floor Plan
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Drawing courtesy Steven Holl ArchitectsRoof Plan


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Drawing courtesy Steven Holl ArchitectsSection

Facts about Knut Hamsun Center

Total area:

2,700 m2

Design architect:

Steven Holl

Associate-in-Charge:

Noah Yaffe

Design Development
Project Architect:
Erik Fenstad

Project Team:

Gabriela Barman-Kraemer
Yoh Hanaoka
Justin Korhammer,
Anna Müller
Audra Tuskes

Structural Engineer:

Guy Nordenson and Associates

Construction Documents
Associate Architects:
LY Arkitekter AS

Project Team:

Francesco Bartolozzi
Ebbie Wisecarver

Structural Engineer:

Rambøll Norge

Mechanical Engineer:

Rambøll Norge

Mechanical Engineer:

Ove Arup

Lighting Consultant:

L'Observatoire International

Lighting consultant:

Vesa Honkonen Architects

Landscape Architect:

Landskapsfabikken

Client:

Nordland Fylkeskommune (County)

Last updated: December 19, 2013

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