Thursday 24 September 2015


Library at the Ivar Aasen Centre (2000), architect Sverre Fehn.

This is the archive of  Kristian Hoff-Andersen's blog about architecture, life and art. Here the reader will find pictures, text and videos concerning architecture, gathered and produced throughout four years of architecture school, travels, research and everyday life. The posts are a mixture between updates from school, theoretical musings and the everyday architecture I've encountered, with a particular emphasis on architecture in popular culture, fictional or otherwise. They are for the most part not very connected to the point in time in which they were written, and should be worth looking at still.

I encourage you to make use of the labels found in the word cloud at the bottom of the page, or just browse through the dates, search for specific terms and look into whatever might evoke interest. The pictures are taken by yours truly, and can be used freely with credit. Enjoy!

My word cloud, to be found at the bottom of this page. I'm quite proud of it.


As my readers, may have noticed, this blog has remained quiet for some time now. Although I've loved working on it, I find that it's time to try out new channels and formats. For example, Norwegian readers may want to have a look at my little piece about the Deichman library, published in the latest edition of the magazine Minerva, which was released three days ago, on 21st September 2015. I will continue writing articles, essays and other kinds of text, and try to decide on a way of publisihing.

A big thanks is in order when something like this ends. Thank you to all my friends, acquaintaces and strangers who've followed me, thank you for your comments and feedback, and for reading my simple thoughts on this enormous and microscopical field of society. Thank you to everyone who inspires me, to architects still present and long gone, and most importantly, to the people who want to make architecture that engages with society. You bring us forward.

Tuesday 20 January 2015


Pavillion of the USA, World's fair 1900, Paris

Not exactly my definition of beauty, but it sure makes a statement. 1900 must have been a strange time to be alive.

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.
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