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Architravel | Online architectur quide
Architeam Projects

clip Snøhetta Architects

Total Projects from Snøhetta Architects: 3

What's in a name? A lot when it comes to Snohetta, one of the few young architectural practices whose moniker is neither an amalgam of surnames nor some fashionable abstracted techno-speak. Oslo-based Snohetta take their name from a mountain in central Norway - not just a beautiful peak but also the seat of the Norse gods.

Mysticism, metaphor and mountain, indeed landscapes generally, come together in the work of the practice, established in 1987 for the com¬petition to build a new library in Alexandria, Egypt - a building to replace one of the wonders of the ancient world. They won.

Completed in 2002, the library is, to date, their magnum opus - a giant 160-metre-diameter glazed disc that emerges out of the layers of his¬tory and tilts its face to a northern light. Its solid granite drum is inscribed with alphabets that represent 10,000 years and 500 cultures. The great amphitheatre of the reading room sits 2,000 readers. Next door a spherical planetarium is suspended above the ground so that, like Atlas, you can take the world on your shoulders. A bridge across the site invokes the streak of a comet. The library mediates between land and sea, earth and air, past, present and future.

This attempt to connect with the enduring is typical of all of the practice's deeply symbolic work. Their art museum scheme for a gallery dedicated to William Turner in Margate, UK, is similarly a harbour wall out¬crop, a monolith duelling with the power of the sea. Their work also reveals a desire to connect the particular to the universal; from the screens woven from a native coastal bush on the flank of the Karmoy Fishing Museum in Norway (1998) to the building's concrete-framed glazed end wall, which gazes out to infinity.

Snohetta reject society's artificial hierarchies in favour of the wider horizons of the natural environment. This is reflected in the organization of the practice, run by three partners: American Craig Dykers (born 1961), Christoph Kapeller (born 1956) and Kjetil Thorsen (born 1958). They work in an integrated way as landscape designers and masterplanners as well as architects. Everybody can work simultaneously on a web-based hyper-file that holds, updates and synchronizes the projects. Connection is central to their way of working.

It is hard to detect recurrent motifs in the buildings - while each creates its own topography, they are too attuned in both material and form to their own locale - although Snohetta do have a knack for cornering spectacular edge-condition sites. The location for their Norwegian Embassy in Berlin (1999), just south of the Tiergarten, is more prosaic but they have made a Norwegian landscape of it. The embassy's south wall is a single, 120-ton, monolithic slice of grey Norwegian granite. Another wall comprises glass louvres designed to hint at the verticality of forests and the cool of glaciers.

A new landscape will emerge on home turf when Oslo's National Opera House is completed in 2008 - a fractured mountain of a building, rising diagonally out of the fjord. Again, for Snohetta, landscape and building fuse into one universal whole.


  • Address: El Shatby, Alexandria 21526, ALEXANDRIA, Egypt
  • Latitude: 31.2089
  • Longitude: 29.9092
  • Address: Bjørvika Peninsula, OSLO, Norway
  • Latitude: 59.9079
  • Longitude: 10.7489
  • Address: Petter Dass Museum, ALSTAHAUG, Norway
  • Latitude: 65.893
  • Longitude: 12.3963