Friday, 5 December 2014


Photo by Morgan Flament

This great picture suddenly showed up on my Facebook news feed this morning, and I immediately decided I had to put it on the blog. It's taken from a new theatre play called "Apokalypse da" (Engl: "Apocalypse then") by the duo REBEKKA/HUY at Black Box Theatre in Oslo, which deals with the Vietnam war, seen from present day by a generation of actors born in the eighties. (Norwegian description on the theatre's website.) Unfortunately, I did not see it, so I don't know exactly what kind of scene is depicted here.

Lighting design was done by the brilliant (heh) (no, but seriously) Norunn Standal, and reveals two important points to me: The first, of course, is how light in itself can create a feeling of space. The entire "room" visible in this picture is defined by the reach of the lamps, with blurry, bulging edges, but still well-defined. I'm a lover of shadow in architecture, and she uses it masterly. The second thing to notice here, is how amazing artificial light can be. Using the "fog effect", dispersion of white light in smoke makes the whole scene and people glow, and lets us see things in new ways.

I love natural light as much as the next architect, but many people around the world, especially in Northern areas, spend large parts of their lives under dark skies. In this situation, it is the role of the architect and designer to recognize the fact that windows look more or less like large black squares for most of the time we see them.

Therefore, it must be one of the basic tasks of our professions to think new thoughts about how to create artificial lighting which helps bring about environments of high quality, a necessity in replacing the function of natural light when that is absent.

Saturday, 11 October 2014


(M. C. Escher, Dutch graphic artist with a taste for illusions and paradoxical constructions drawn in 2D.)

(Robert Leighton, cartoonist. A short article on how this one was created can be found here.)

Thursday, 9 October 2014


More dance! As a follow-up of my last post, I got several tips about the phenomenon I now know by the name of site-specific dance. This example is a particularly lovely one, which a dancer (Thanks, Karin!) tiped me of. The performers from Project Bandaloop, suspended in ropes, are using the context of an old stone and terracotta facade as a means to create a new and interesting interaction between body and architcture. The variation between windows and walls become variations in movements, with jumping and landing movements enhanced by the slow speed allowed by the suspension, leading me to speculate about toher ways architects could encourage diffent ways of moving.

"Oakland City Hall 1917" by Oakland Chamber of Commerce, Publicity Bureau - Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

The building is Oakland City Hall, designed in the Beaux-Arts style by architects Palmer and Hornbostel and completed in 1914. A steel-frame building, it was damaged in an earthquake in 1989, but had its foundations redesigned to withstand new earthquakes.

Lovely, simple music by William Ryan Fritch.

Thursday, 2 October 2014


What is the relationship between the body and architecture? Are rooms all about seeing, or should designers also take in account sensory experiences such as touch, sound, smell, temperature and balance?  And do we use the whole space of the rooms we are in, or do we simply stick to restricted movements through restricted zones?

Picture credits: Not me. Sia, I suppose?

In this rather amazing music video, 11 year old Maddie Ziegler performs a choreography that to an (to my eyes) unusual degree, engages with the room in which it is performed. Sia's rihannesque (they've collaborated earlier) song is complemented by Siegler's moves through what looks like an early 20th century apartment, with rough and stained surfaces. She moves from room to room, playing with light and shadow, as well as constantly interacting physically with the shapes and borders of the spaces in new ways.

Although I unfortunately can't use or experience a room this way myself, due to my being a well below average dancer, I think this video serves as a reminder of the possibilities that lie in the meeting between bodies and rooms, possibilities that perhaps should be more explored by both designers, dancers and daily users of architecture.

P.S. If you (as I) were truly fascinated, have a look at the one-take version of the video at The Guardian. A bit rougher than the official video, it's perhaps even more captivating in the unrefined honesty of what was happening on the set.

Friday, 26 September 2014


From left: King, Architect, Other Guy. Credits: Probably Don Lawrence

While looking for a desk chair at a flea market last Sunday, I stumbled upon a comic book which I'd never heard of before. However, it contained pictures of fantastic cities, dams blowing up and futuristic technologies mixed with ancient and diverse artistic references, so I paid a few kroner for it, and brought it home.

Turns out, this was the first story of the infamous(/famous?) sci-fi/historical fantasy comic book series called The Rise and Fall of the Trigan Empire, which enjoyed a long life considering its genre, continuously published between 1966 and 1982. There's actually a rather large focus on architecture and cities in the series, and the architect Peric is one of its main characters. The imaginations of writer Mike Butterworth and artist Don Lawrence should probably share the credits for the interesting concepts.

The Trigan City is, like many other visual elements of the series, a fantasy on Ancient Roman features. White stone, columns (columns, columns), pediments and round arches are recognisable parts of Roman classicism, whereas onion domes, spires and other features of medieval architecture pierce the horizon and prevent monotony.

Monday, 22 September 2014


Perhaps you know this very well, but there is a place called Celebration, a small town in Florida, built by the Walt Disney Company. An early example of New Urbanism put into practice, the people in this town seem to be living (that's right, they live there for real) on the very edge of reality as we know it. The idea of letting it snow in Florida is rather surreal by itself, but accompanied by music and voices seeming to come from nowhere in particular, it's beyond weird, seen with my European eyes.

And on the other hand: What if this works for the people who live there? Celebration is a walkable town, and people make real friendships there, just by passing each other by on porches or the sidewalks. At least it's an alternative to suburban sprawl, isn't it? And what are the alternatives? How much "real" traditional urbanism is there in the US?

I'd never live in Celebration, but perhaps we'll have to let fantasy play a bigger part in architecture when dealing with the need for reshaping society to meet the ecological crisis ahead. Is Celebration a definite answer? Absolutely not. Is it an interesting question? I would say yes.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014


What do you do with a city built for 300 000 people, but with a population of less than 10% of that? (It's Inner Mongolia, I don't blame humanity for not moving.) We're talking large urban spaces, attempts at innovative architecture, oversize bronze horses galloping across stone plazas, organic concrete shapes and four-lane roads without cars.

You bring your skateboard, of course.

The poetically named Kangbashi New Area, Ordos. Not Bregna.

Friday, 12 September 2014


So, thanks to Netflix I've started  watching the original Star Trek-series, here represented by the Orient-inspired (Jerusalem meets Lhasa) Riegel VII. I'm rather amazed, but as George Takei (who by the way was very hot back then) would say: Oh myyy!

Saturday, 30 August 2014


No, it's not a library from Fascist Italy. Behold the Leisner Auditorium of the George Washington Univeristy in Washington DC! When everyone else was doing "stripped-down" classicism in DC in the 40s, architects Faulkner and Kingsbury decided to go completely naked with the Auditorium, named after a donor and finished in 1943.

A symmetric building clad in limestone, it only hints at classical roots, with a level of detail some might find to be a bit harsh, while others may think the structure to be strikingly modern and intense in its austerity. I'd call it a guilty pleasure, I suppose. Inhuman and amazingly ruthless though it is, the shadows cast by its narrow porch, the dynamic of the three entrances invisible from each other, and the soft patina of the stone walls in my opinion makes it good enough to deserve its place. If I could make one wish, it would have been for the pillars to be of massive limestone, or at least not as obviously clad in rather thin plates of it.

At night, 1946

The building has been used both for concerts, movie screenings, lectures and debates throughout the years, and continues to function as a gathering place in modern day DC.

River Horse, 1996

In front of the building stands the sculpture called River Horse (artist unknown), given as a gift in 1996. A plaque on the base reads

Legend has it that the Potomac was once home to these wondrous beasts.
George & Martha Washington are even said to have watched them cavort in
the river shallows from the porch of their beloved Mount Vernon on summer evenings.
Credited with enhancing the fertility of the plantation, the Washingtons believed
the hippopatamus brought them good luck & children on the estate often attempted
to lure the creatures close enough to the shore to touch a nose for good luck.
So, too, may generations of students of the George Washington University.
Art for wisdom,
Science for joy,
Politics for beauty,
And a Hippo for hope.
The George Washington University Class of 2000
August 28, 1996

Friday, 29 August 2014


Long after the destruction of our Solar System, the space station city state of Sidonia may be the last remnant of mankind. In the newish Netflix series Knights of Sidonia, we observe what happens when an outsider from the deep and mysterious foundations of the city enters the world above, and goes further into space to fight the monsters that threaten the city's existence.

The city of Sidonia is a curious place. Unlike so many other visions of the future, a certain degree of organised complexity seems to the the principle with which it has been formed. The steel and glass skyscrapers which are at the core so many visions of the future are very absent, and in their place, we find an amazing diversity.

Artificial landscapes, bodies of water and immense structural skeletons of metal actually seem to be complemented by masonry buildings, with facades reminiscent of fortified European architecture, modern Japanese structures and weightless Middle Eastern villages stacked on top of each other. 

Hipped roof with terracotta tiles and what looks like green copper cladding, external staircases, courtyards, cloisters and even streetscapes give these conglomerates a wonderful amount of variation. Especially interesting is the way it all seems to have grown over time, with additions, nooks, balconies, bridges and towers. However, it all comes together as a rather harmonious-looking built environment, forming an effective background for the dramatic actions of the series. I'm fascinated.

PS. If you'd like to check out some real world-attempts at the same thing, check out the work of Ricardo Bofill, or MVRDV's Vertical Village concept.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014


Picture credit: Pinterest, I think

Today in outdoor architecture: A super cool tunnel made of steel and living pumpkin plants. The colour, the contrast between the geometry of the steel and the organic shapes of the plants, and the amazing filtering of the light all come together to make this an unusual and interesting space. Would love to put one of these in my garden, or even in the grounds of a school or public building.

Friday, 15 August 2014


Once again, months have passed since I last published anything on the blog. However, this doesn't mean that interesting things aren't happening; quite the opposite.

The image is an illustration from Danish writer H.C. Andersen's fairytale "The Little Mermaid", which was published in Copenhagen in 1837. The illustration was made by Edmund Dulac in 1911, and depicts the prince finding the mermaid right after she's received her legs. The prince is leaning on a column of (more or less) unprecedented design, with a concave base, which, although ornamented in gold patterns, brings a feeling of uncertainty to the scene, perhaps reflecting the lack of security and certainty that the mermaid seems to feel throughout the story. (Read it, it's beautiful and sad.)

Just like the little mermaid, I've caught myself longing to experience new places and new perspectives throughout the years at Bergen School of Architecture. Although it's an amazing school, where I've found some of my best friends, I'm not sure if I ever quite grasped what their approach is really about. With this in mind, I've spent many evenings and weekends during the last year making and sending applications to schools throughout the Western hemisphere. The first school I was told I got in to, was the Art Academy's Architecture School in Copenhagen (the official name is unbelievably long and complicated, and reeks of NPM), in English mostly just called KADK, and I accepted the place.

This means that I'll spend the last two years of my education in Copenhagen, Denmark's wondrous capital, a city of red brick and cobblestone, green copper domes and tree-lined canals. Thinking about it, I realised that quite a few posts on this blog have been based on pictures from Copenhagen, including the Totoro post, the smelling wood post, the perspective post (where the photo was taken a few metres form the grave of H.C. Andersen), the city life post, the summer farewell post, and the main entrance post + the murderous library post, both of which focus on how much the outside of the new Royal Library buildings sucks. I have a few friends in the city, and I hope to get more. Also, the city supposedly has a vibrant cultural scene which encompasses many different genres, and some very cute gay guys.

The main point of moving, though, is attending the new program in political architecture at KADK. In what seems to be an attempt at raising the school's academic achievements, we'll be focus as much on reading, discussing and writing, as we'll do on drawing, modeling and looking at pictures of houses. Rumor has it that some of the best teachers and students of the school have been put into the program, so I must admit that I'm both a bit nervous, as well as extremely excited. In the program, which also will approach the buzzword "sustainability"and criticisms of it, I hope to be able to use my experiences both as a politician working with architecture, as an environmental activist working with architecture, and as an architecture student concerned with politics and environmental questions.

Wish me luck! (And maybe I'll see you there?)

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Friday, 7 March 2014


Soria Moria Castle, by Theodor Kittelsen. Wikimedia Commons.           

Finally, time for another painting! It's been a while, and this time I've chosen one where architectural forms are just hinted at, instead of being worked out in detail. I still find it to be an alluring and beautiful picture, which evokes many images in my mind.

The fairytale of Soria Moria Castle is one of the most poular Norwegian folk tales, and has triggered the imagination of artists through generations, especially since its publication as a part of Asbørnsen and Moe's collections of folk tales in the mid-19th century. Read the entire story here.

PS. Although the story doesn't involve any dwarves, it's supposed to be the source of Tolkien's name for Moria, the dwarf-kingdom of Middle-earth. Do not trust this information.

Wednesday, 26 February 2014


To live in a stump house! How wonderful is this? From the Jim Linderman collection, who also published a book of arcane americana, with this picture and many others.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014


Main facade

Earlier today, my friend Anita sent me an article about the Hurva Synagogue in Jerusalem. Dating back centuries, it was reconstructed and re-opened in 2010, after having lain in ruins since 1948.

Actually, the building has been torn down several times, thus earning its name, which means "ruin" in Hebrew. However, it's also been rebuilt, time and time again, not at least because of its importance as a symbol for Jewish presence in Jerusalem and Palestine throughout the ages.

This also meant that the reconstruction was seen as a provocation by parts of the Arab population, who protested the re-opening, claiming that it was the start of a campaign to conquer Jerusalem on behalf of the Jewish people, eventually leading to Israel destroying landmarks of Arab presence in the city.

For others, however, the reconstruction meant recovering a missing piece of the puzzle that is Jewish history. The old synagogue was a symbol of Jerusalem itself, and many later synagogues around the world were modelled on its neo-byzantine design. Getting it back, meant that a memory once again became reality.

This blog is mainly about architecture, not politics, but it's interesting to see how the erection of a building has very different meanings, depending on who you're asking. The Hurva Synagogue is also a prime example of how important historical buildings and cities are to our identities, even when they are (almost) completely rebuilt.

The ruin, 1967

Interior of the building, clearly showing where parts
of the old ruin were incorporated in the new structure.

All pictures: Wikimedia Commons

Tuesday, 11 February 2014


Picture by Wikimedia Commons

Eating delicious Phsyalis berries as an evening snack, I'm thinking it would be great to make a building with a structure based on that of a of a Physalis shell. A greenhouse, perhaps?

Sunday, 19 January 2014


Picture by Wikicommons

At the time when I started this blog, I wrote a few posts about the wonderful wooden architecture of Russia. Large manor houses, churches and villages are all part of a great tradition which is not well-known in the West, but includes both very classical buildings, and those inspired by vernacular architecture.

Rear view. Picture by Wikicommons.

The example of the day is the elegant and charming estate of Tarkhany, which was constructed around 1800 in the region of Penza Oblast, in Western Russia. Currently a working museum, the manor house and the surroundings were originally a family residence, containing such necessities as a church, fish ponds, fruit gardens, a domed garden pavilion, avuenues of lime trees, several cottages for the workers, and a mausoleum.

Tarkhany garden pavilion. Picture by

Pavilion dome detail. Picture by

Tarkhany was also the home of the famous Russian poet Lermontov, and the museum still contains many of his belongings in the period furnished rooms of the houses.

Cottage at Tarkhany. Picture by

I want a porch like this one. Picture by Wikicommons


Friday, 10 January 2014


I watched this wonderful little film in Christmas, and was blown away by all the wonderful design. Disney was heavily inspired by the Norwegian landscape, especially Western Norway, and went on several study trips to establish the asthetics of Arendelle, the kingdom in which the film takes place.

Apart from nice music and charming characters, I guarantee you'll love the buildings, which were copied from famous Norwegian buildings and building types, such as Akershus fortress in Oslo, Bergen city centre, stave churches and log-built houses. The royal palace is basically a stave church with bedrooms.


Hello, Arendelle

Hello, Gol Stave Church

Hello, Akershus Fortress

Hello, Bergen

Oh, and the queen builds a pink and blue ice palace at one point.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...