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From the exhibition. Photo: Nasjonalmuseet / Anne Hansteen Jarre

Contemporary Norwegian Architecture # 7

6 May 2011–21 August 2011

The National Museum – Architecture

The exhibition highlights new Norwegian architecture. It reveals particularities in the individual works and points to developments that have significance for society.

The selection encompasses everything from a little rest stop and private dwellings, via complex building solutions and infrastructure, to the great urban transformations of recent years. By using various presentation formats and new media the exhibition conveys a complex picture of Norwegian architecture which has been realised both in Norway and abroad during the past five years.

The exhibition is the seventh in a series of presentations devoted to contemporary Norwegian architecture from 1968 until today. Details from the six preceding exhibitions are presented in Hvelvet (the Vault) until 31 July. These projects can be seen as forerunners of the internationally recognised Norwegian architecture of today. The exhibition is part of the Year of Architecture 2011.

The exhibition's organisation and thematization

Norwegian architecture abroad

The Norwegian Embassy in Nepal, an airport in India, an art pavilion in Korea and dormitories in Thailand have little in common as projects, other than being located off Norwegian turf. Nevertheless, they indicate potentially important characteristics of the field of work facing Norwegian architects in years to come: the growth potential of Norwegian architecture as an export business and a mounting role for self-initiated projects in developing countries, where newly graduated architects are attempting to reinterpret and expand the role of designers.

Single house qualities

For decades Norwegian architects have shown that they master the development of outstanding detached cabins and residences. The exhibition presents a villa in one of Trondheim’s housing estates, two farmhouses – one at Toten in Oppland County and one in Rogaland County, and a cabin at the ski resort town Geilo. These projects illustrate an attitude for interpreting landscape and building-site situations, conceptual thinking, clever craftsmanship in dealing with materials and an attention to detail, and especially the ability to find a fresh approach to every building assignment.

Apartment buildings

Although residential construction in Norway has been formidable in the past five years, we find only a few really admirable solutions for larger housing developments in dense urban areas in the period 2005–2010. However, the selections in the exhibition – a small apartment building in central Oslo, a housing development on the west side of Oslo and a series of apartment buildings in North Norway – document successful floor plans, fine solutions for admitting ample daylight, sheltered outdoor areas and focus on sustainability – in clear architectural idioms.


The Lantern Pavilion, a campfire spot for children and Tubaloon are assignments without complicated room programmes or indoor climate requirements. The architects have grasped this potential for cultivating concepts, researching and developing constructions, subjecting materials to challenges and attending to design details in installations that are nearly objects of art.

New within old

Construction assignments of the future will increasingly involve transformations, recycling and redeveloping existing buildings and urban structures. After a devastating fire in downtown Trondheim, a city block (Burnt-out ruins/Borkeplassen) was rebuilt in keeping with the qualities of the previous urban buildings. The few, but high-quality refurbishment projects the National Museum – Architecture, the Gyldendal Building and the Defence Administration Building all involve the transformation of protected buildings that have been enhanced with new edifices. All these projects are the results of thorough dialogues and processes involving the cultural heritage authorities.

Government intentions

The Norwegian National Opera and Ballet, the new Holmenkollen Ski Jump, the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, and Halden Prison are all construction assignments financed by generous Norwegian state subsidies. The Building programmes illustrate the public authorities’ priorities and willingness to make such investments. For instance, the Norwegian State (and indirectly the City of Oslo), allocated billions of kroner to build a new Opera House. The idea was not just to give the cultural sector a boost, but also to make use of the Opera as a tool urban development in the capital, where one of the goals was to spread the city centre eastwards and establish the so-called Fjord City.

Local cultural institutions

Two museum compounds in Nordland County, the Hamsun Centre and the Petter Dass Museum, attracts international tourists and local visitors seeking fascinating cultural history and conceptually strong architecture. Tautra Mariakloster is essentially less accessible; however, that doesn’t decrease its historical and architectural appeal. It is built close to the ruins of a medieval Cystercian monastery at Frosta in Nord-Trøndelag County.


Two large schools in Kristiansand and Oslo have generous, central foyers and common areas and are made to accommodate various sorts of teaching forms and both have been graced with the use of high-quality materials and furnishings. Lærernes Hus is an ambitious low-energy concept with well-lit and open floor spaces testifying to the union’s commitments to environmentalism and the dissemination of knowledge.

Recreation and outdoor life

Juvet Landscape Hotel at the Gudbrandsjuvet Gorge in Møre og Romsdal County, Beach bar and SUB units at Stokkøya Sea Centre in Sør-Trøndelag County and Preikestol Mountain Lodge/ Base camp further evolve and renew concepts of traditional overnight accommodations for tourists and nature lovers.

National Tourist Routes in Norway

Since 1997 the National Tourist Routes have planned and carried out small initiatives along Norwegian roads and highways for the benefit of tourists and travellers. The project gained momentum after 2005 and around 50 projects were implemented, many of them the work of younger architects. The project incorporates rest stops, vista points, stairways and paths down to the water or up a mountain slope, cafeterias and exhibition and information centres.

Urban transformation

Never before has Norwegian urban development projects been of a magnitude like the ones from the period 2005–2010; in both the financial and architectural sense of the word. The exhibition highlights four different examples, from the cities of Oslo, Drammen, Trondheim and Tromsø.