Beate Hølmebakk, «House for a young woman», 1995. From the Virginia series. © The National Museum
Photo: Nasjonalmuseet

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Beate Hølmebakk’s Virginia series (1995–2000) consists of drawings and models for four houses based on interpretations of four female characters from literature. In the context of Norwegian architectural history, the meticulous pencil and pen-and-ink drawings are masterpieces within the genre of paper architecture and were purchased by the National Museum in 2020. ‘Paper architecture’ is a term used for projects that only exist as architectural drawings and were never intended to be built.  

The Virginia series refers to Virginia Woolf’s essay A Room of One’s Own. The four projects are:  

  • House for a Young Woman (Veslemøy from Arne Garborg’s Haugtussa [‘The Mountain Maid’])
  • House for a Mother and a Child (Helene Alving from Henrik Ibsen’s Gjengangere [‘Ghosts’])
  • House for a Housewife (Ragnhild from Olav Duun’s Medmenneske [‘Fellow Man’])
  • House for a Widow (Lauren Hartke from Don DeLillo’s The Body Artist)   

Hølmebakk herself has said about this project: “The buildings are architectonic interpretations of the different women’s situations. The interpretations are personal and unscholarly, the architecture is up-to-date.”

Beate Hølmebakk is one of Norway’s most prominent architects. She is Professor of Architecture at the Oslo School of Architecture and Design and runs the architecture practice Manthey Kula together with her co-founding partner Per Tamsen. The practice’s built work include the memorial site at Utøykaia and several projects for Norwegian Scenic Routes. The practice also works regularly on ‘paper projects’.