Monday, 31 May 2010


1. How come so many people tend to associate the word "ugly" with industrial materials when talking about building and architecture, whereas the word "beautiful" will often be associated with natural materials?

Do they the industrial materials unfamiliar to people, even after centuries of being surrounded by them? 


Is it their lack of complexity?


Perhaps it has something to do with the way weather and age? Most industrial materials look their best when they're new.

2. How come some many architects and designers refuse to accept this fact and its consequences?

Perhaps they're just completely in love with the not very subtle contrast between natural and industrial materials?


Is it because so many architects hope to annoy people when they live, and get famous after their death?


Is it because they have an obsession with their work looking "modern"?

Could it be that they consider their own way of experiencing a building to be a lot more important than everyone else's, and hope to convert people to the better by exposing them to what they don't like, again and again, until their sensitivity disappears?

 Are they afraid of being called nostalgic if they use traditional materials, such as local wood and stone, earth, brick, straw and turf?


I am curious about your answers, and though my questions are rhetorical, they're also quite honest. Please comment on this blog post if you have any thoughts.

Is this better? And if so, how come? (I love it, but I'm not quite sure why.)

Saturday, 22 May 2010


On the way to school, three burnt-down warehouses by the sea are being reconstructed. It's quite fascinating to follow process, where the buildings are in different stages of being rebuilt.

They also raise some questions: Are artisan methods being used? Should they be? What should the buildings look like? One of last year's diploma student suggested they be constructed to echo the shapes of the original buildings, but nor the materials and methods of construction. It appears to me that they're now partly using newer forms of construction and materials, such as a steel frame and doors made from MDF or something similar, whereas the façades will be copies of the ones who were there before the fire.

I guess it has something to do with wanting to tell the history of the place through the architecture, but the fire is also a part of that history. However, the old façades were nice to look at and were very familiar to the people who live in and pass through this area, like the faces of old friends. Maybe they'll be happy to see them back, in a year or so?

Wednesday, 19 May 2010


This weekend included many more or less unusual happenings. One of these took place when my friend Stine Renate and I visited the Historical museum in Oslo. The museum is a beautiful building, built in 1903 in a monumental and yet friendly style, and filled with magnificent architectural elements. The architect, Henrik Bull, especially paid much attention to the details in the building, applying a decorative style that mixed ancient Nordic ornamentation with the aesthetic of Art Nouvau, and utilising plaster mouldings, carved stone, stucco marble, oak wood and stained glass among other fine materials, he gave this grand building a human scale.

While pretending we didn't know we were sneaking into rooms we weren't supposed to be in, we discovered this owl. We never figured out why he was so strict, but afterwards, we noticed owls everywhere in the building's ornamentation, including one flying upside down, and (a granite) one holding up a column in the staircase. The owls are supposed symbolically to represent wisdom, I guess, but the symbolic part really doesn't matter very much to me, as they look cool and bring the building to life anyway.  I can't help but finding these sorts of elements in Art Nouveau and other kinds of ornamented architecture infinitely charming; and I guess there might be something in the way they seem to watch over the building and its surroundings.

Sunday, 16 May 2010


Actually, my dream was about my class and I going to a house where we would slide up slides (!) past many different types of ice cream that we could buy if we pointed at them.

But this picture looked like it could have been taken in a dream, doesn't it? It was taken today at the University Botanical Garden in Oslo, inside one of the newly restored greenhouses. These 19th century buildings are build out of iron, brick, stone and glass, and use the thermal mass of the heavy materials to save the heat that enter them in day, and release it during the night. The restorations were executed in a very nice manner, with real stucco on the walls, lots of new beautiful and interesting plants and great detailing. Thanks to Gro Mette for showing me. Oh, by the way, the waterlilies on the picture are called Victoria waterlilies, and when full grown, are strong enough to hold little children.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010


For some time now, there has been a discussion as to whether the gates outside the school should be removed, and parts of the grounds opened to the public as a sort of common land, where people can meet and come down to the water. I have loved the idea from the start, and was very happy when I came to school yesterday the gates were gone. I suddenly felt that the street and pavement and surroundings were connected to the landscape in a whole new way.

The common land ("allmenning") is a very distinct feature of the city planning in Bergen, where large strips of land go all the way from the sea to the forest and mountain, thereby bringing air, open space and a view into the city. If a decision was made to create a "BAS common", we would be able to contribute to a better environment for people in our part of Bergen, so I hope the gates will continue to be gone, so that people will get the chance to be present.

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Friday, 7 May 2010


"No kangaroos allowed in the playground!" I love pictographs. Saw this one a few days ago while taking a walk in the park.

Thursday, 6 May 2010


Yesterday, I visited the home of Svein Hatloy, the main founder of Bergen School of Architecture, the school's last headmaster and an important architecture philosopher. Svein is still a professor at the school, and an important thinker and mediator in the field of open form.

The house was no less than amazing, and an important work of open form, an approach to design invented by the Polish architect Oscar Hansen, which is often described as a rebellion against the aesthetics of the rectangle, with an emphasis on variation, additive composition and an active attitude towards the context of buildings. Although a redesign of a 1960's standard house, there was very little repetition to be seen; every surface was full of life, details and variation. There was round posts and square posts, wooden floors, tiles and stone floors, little staircases here and there, windows of different shapes and sizes, in the walls and in the ceilings. Still, there was an amazing calm present. The air was very clean and light, the sunshine gave everything a cold, calm glow, and the volumes of the rooms made them feel intimate, and at the same time open. The house is quite large, but still seemed rather sustainable, due to the use of local and re-used materials, sun-heated hot water and alot of attention having been paid to the local climate and weather.

Svein gave us some interesting assignments for drawings of different aspects of the house and the landscape, the response he gave us when we presented our productions, was no less rewarding. Apparently, yesterday was the second time in 24 years that the first-graders were invited to Svein, and upon spotting Norsk Form's award on his wall, I couldn't help feeling we were rather privileged to be able to speak to and learn from him.

Photos by yours truly, architecture by Svein Hatloy.

Monday, 3 May 2010


1st May 2010, more or less known as the International Worker's Day, was celebrated in Bergen with a huge demonstration with red flags and great speeches, as is the tradition. One thing was new, though. As the first of what is hoped to be many similar events, the freshly started Bergen Guild of Guerilla Gardeners planted their first sunflowers in selected parts of the city, here and there with a company of poppy seeds and apple seedlings. This kind of action could be seen as a practical socialism of sorts, where people reclaim public land that isn't being used (kinda like the Diggers in 17th century England) to practice sustainable and progressive urban agriculture, enabling them to grow their own organic food close to their homes; or you could just see it as a way of making cities more beautiful and humane places of living. I guess I see it as both.

Photo by Anso
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