When the words “Scandinavian Design” come up, most people quickly think about Finland, Sweden, and Denmark. But Norway is no slouch, either. Recently, the nation's designers have been drumming up noise in the worlds of furniture, product design, and architecture. A string of exhibitions, a master plan for New York’s Times Square, and a robust program of roadside pavilions and viewing platforms highlight this Norsk moment. Leading the way are architects Snøhetta, who have been on quite the streak in the last year, most recently gaining commissions to master plan Penn Station and Times Square, just ten blocks from each other in New York. While their Times Square design isn’t the firm's most dramatic work—indeed, it's intended to be a subtle backdrop to the chaotic public space—but it should be a welcome, nuanced addition to the commercial free-for-all that includes Guy’s American Kitchen & Bar. Just a few blocks to the west—towards the Hudson River—the Royal Norwegian Consulate General showed off the country’s design prowess at a recent series of events. At Wanted Design, Calm, Cool and Collected: New Designs from Norway, a booth full of Norsk people and treasures, showcased the subtle use of wood characteristic of Scandinavian design. The up-and-coming studios on display included A-Form, Stokke Austad, Anderssen & Voll, Lars Beller Fjetland, Everything Elevated, Kristine Five Melvær, and Sverre Uhnger. Also sponsored by the Norwegian government was Insidenorway at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF), which hosted a group of classic Norwegian brands: Figgjo, Mandal Veveri, Røros Tweed, and VAD. Plates by Figgjo were offered in three styles and featured an elegant flat base and flared edge. Røros Tweed showed off textiles by other famous Norwegians—Anderssen & Voll, Snøhetta, and Bjarne Melgaard. At Collective Design, Oslo- and Tokyo-based Fuglen Gallery showcased an assortment of objects both new and old, alongside work by Norwegian artist Arne Lindaas. The eclectic assortment showed the thematic extension of Norwegian modernism into the 21st century, encompassing much of the iconic work with new, up-and-coming designers. In 2014, Norwegian Icons was curated by Fuglen and Blomqvist at Openhouse Gallery in New York, and showcased the Midcentury design that peaked in Norway around 1950–1970. This exhibition actually continued the tradition of Norway’s promotional shows on the international stage, while also setting up some context for the other shows. It is not just international exhibitions and commissions that have drawn attention to Norway’s strong design culture. The Norwegian Public Roads Administration famously commissions its infrastructure to architects. Across the country, there are points of architectural interest, many of which are located in scenic areas. Most famously, the Trollstigen National Tourist Route has six stunning overlooks. Besides Snøhetta’s iconic designs such as the Oslo Opera House, there are architects like Fantastic Norway and Reiulf Ramstad who are consistently producing top work. At institutions like Fuglen, 0047, and the Oslo School of Architecture & Design, intellectual communities thrive, fostering a strong community of young designers like MMW and Atelier Oslo. The city will get an additional cultural boost during the 2016 Oslo Triennale, curated by New York–based team at After Belonging Agency, a group of five Spanish architects, curators and scholars. Take a look at some of Norway's top new design in the gallery below.
Posts tagged with "Snøhetta":
The frustratingly congested, obnoxiously loud, and aggressively dirty area around Penn Station is easily the worst part of Manhattan. It is the reason why tourists qualify their vacation stories about New York with "but I could never live there." Turning the dreadful area around the station (let's leave the hated station out of it for now) into a pleasant place where people want to spend time and not just push and shove their way through is a Herculean task, but one that Snøhetta has agreed to take on. Crain’s reported that Vornado Realty Trust, which owns most of the property around Penn Station, has tapped the high-profile firm to come up with a master plan to spruce up its adjacent buildings and street-level areas. Once that plan is finalized, Vornado may bring in other architecture firms to take on specific projects. But bottom line is that Vornado understands how miserable the area is right now. Mark Ricks, the company's senior vice president of development, called it the "collision of humanity." He gets it. To see how a more pedestrian-friendly transformation would shakeout, Vornado will be turning a one-block stretch of West 33rd Street into a public plaza from mid-July to mid-October. The new space could include tables and chairs, performances, and even yoga classes. StreetsBlog reported that other changes could be coming to 32nd Street as well including a sidewalk extension, planters, and eliminating one lane of traffic. Vornado will pay for all of the improvements, which should make the area a little less terrible and its property a little more marketable.
Snøhetta, the New York and Oslo–based firm named after Norway's highest mountain range, is opening an office in Copenhagen. The new space opens on June 18th at the Danish Architecture Centre with an exhibit called World Architecture Snøhetta that invites Danes to come meet the firm. "The core of the exhibition is a sensory workshop where visitors can touch, smell, see, and hear how the many projects develop from concept to concrete work," Snøhetta said in a statement. "In photos and films, visitors are met by the Snøhettas who guide, involve and explain. As something entirely unique, visitors will have the opportunity to step into a virtual model and experience what architects are capable of without the help of technology—namely seeing the physical space on its own." Snøhetta is of course the Big Firm on Campus in Oslo—what, with its popular Opera House and all. Now, it's stepping directly into Bjarke Ingels Group territory, which itself is well known to use mountainous references in its design. But we're sure the two firms will play nice and, who knows, maybe this will result in some cool collaborations.
In 2010, director Wim Wenders created a 3D video installation at the Venice Architecture Biennale about the Bolex Learning Center in Lausanne, Switzerland, called If These Walls Could Talk. The ability to visually explore the building and simulate being inside the space that the medium affords inspired him to team up with Robert Redford to create a 3D series called Cathedrals of Culture, which will be shown at the IFC Center in New York beginning on May 1. And talk they do. There are six half-hour films, all by different directors, shown in two programs, and five of them are narrated by the buildings themselves. Each is given a voice, which describes the feelings and observations of the structures. So we hear in the first person from the Berlin Philharmonic (Hans Scharoun), the Oslo Opera House (Snohetta), Halden Prison (EMA), The National Library of Russia (Yegor Sokolov), and the Centre Pompidou (Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers). Only the Salk Institute (Louis Kahn) doesn’t employ this technique and is the most successful program. At Salk, it's the perfect melding of brief and building, science and art, the two sparking each other off to make magic. It is now complemented by a like-minded film. Directed by Robert Redford and with stunning cinematography by Ed Lachmann and music by Moby, the film captures the essence of the building and molds the spaces. Kahn’s structure clearly affects the work of the scientists, who speak about "genius loci," the spirit of place. There’s a wonderful image of the staff assembled in a circle and then fanning out across the plaza, like a living organism. We see and hear both Jonas Salk and Louis Kahn, and learn that they raised each other’s game and made a better building; Salk insisted Kahn throw out the first design, and Kahn rebuts that the client isn’t an architect. Then Salk says "eventually Lou Kahn became quite a biologist, and I came to appreciate the importance of aesthetics…to bring out the spirit and soul of man." The campus is filled with light, which hits home when Edward R. Murrow asks Salk who owns the patent for the polio vaccine?: "The people," he replies. "Would you patent the sun?" In the same program is the Centre Pompidou by Karim Ainouz, a Brazilian filmmaker who studied architecture. He spends most of the episode inside the building, maximizing 3D by floating through tunnels, galleries, elevators, back-of-house spaces and the main hall which is treated like an airport arrival and departure lounge. The shot of a window washer gliding up the clear glass-walled escalator holding a sponge in one hand followed by a squeegee in another and letting the upward glide of the moving staircase do the work is pure ballet. The voice of the building is Deyan Sudjic, Director of the Design Museum in London and former editor of Blueprint magazine, who intones "In a digital century, a world of flickering pixels… a machine for culture that I am, which once seemed so violent, so threatening, has the nostalgic charm now of a steam engine." IFC Center. http://www.ifccenter.com Part 1: The Berlin Philharmonic. Director, Wim Wenders The National Library of Russia. Director, Michael Glawogger Halden Prison. Director, Michael Madsen Part 2: The Salk Institute. Director, Robert Redford The Oslo Opera House. Director, Margreth Olin Centre Pompidou. Director, Karim Ainouz
Snøhetta, the Norwegian firm known for big, dramatic buildings around the globe, has completed a more modest project in Gowanus, Brooklyn: the conversion of a warehouse into a studio and gallery space for José Parlá, a Cuban-American artist and painter. The new space is separated into two defined spaces known as the “Arena” and the “Nest.” The “Arena” is where Parlá can showcase his work, like the mural ONE: Union of the Senses, which is now on display in the lobby of One World Trade Center. And as for the “Nest,” Snøhetta describes that as “a cozy mezzanine [that] provides a relaxing space for the artist to take distance from his work, and an elevated location to view his paintings from a new perspective.” Artists, right? Snøhetta's renovation retains much of the building's industrial past, including its ceilings and concrete floors; the building's brick exterior has largely been preserved as well, but now includes rolling doors to accommodate large pieces of art. Inside, walls are painted grey to highlight the artist's work and old skylights have been opened up to increase natural light.
The momentum continues in San Francisco for the Norwegian firm Snøhetta with a recently-unveiled tower at the corner of the city's Market Street and Van Ness Avenue. And the project has been garnering some fairly untraditional responses from citizens. As proposed, the curving, 37-story One Van Ness tower would be divided by three large cuts, designed to lessen wind load and provide new common spaces. Paired with SCB, Snøhetta will work to replace a tower originally proposed on the site by Richard Meier and Partners. The building's carved-out center has also provided inspiration for illustrators to poke fun. Illustrator Susie Cagle, who told CityLab that the design reminded her of the last SF boom's "bubble mentality," drew the distressed building on the left, while Twitter user The Tens seems to think the building doesn't much care for its neighborhood, as demonstrated in the image below right. San Francisco Chronicle architecture critic John King took note of the parodies and dubbed theSnøhetta's creation the "Talking Tower." He was quick to add in another tweet that the impromptu naming was "not a critique"—he says he quite likes the tower. AN recently talked to Snøhetta principal Craig Dykers about his firm's continuing success in San Francisco, including an extension to SFMOMA, a consulting role on the (recently revised, and moved) Golden State Warriors Arena and a (ultimately unsuccessful) shortlisting for the Presidio Parklands.
Not to be outdone by proposals in Chicago and New York, Snøhetta and WCITARCHITECTURE have thrown their hats into the ring for the Obama Presidential Library, sketching a unique building in the President's home state of Hawaii. If selected, their Barack Obama Presidential Center, affiliated with the University of Hawaii in Honolulu, would take its cues from the forms of both a coral reef and the area's undulating topography. The building would curve around a central courtyard and emerge from the ground with a sloped, planted roof. According to Dawn Hirai, a spokesperson for the presidential center, the proposal is meant to be conceptual, providing the Obama Foundation "an 'idea' of what can be done on the ocean front site." Other ambitious concepts for the 8-acre, state-supplied site were created by Allied Works, MOS with Workshop-HI, and Ferraro Choi. An elevated public terrace of the Snøhetta and WCIT building would provide unobstructed views of the famous Point Panic surf break, the Honolulu skyline, and the crater-like Diamond Head State Monument, the island's most famous landmark. Lifting the building will provide space for an attached park, containing local fixtures like fish ponds, taro fields, and salt pans. Inside the building would contain exhibit spaces, meeting rooms, a restaurant, and facilities for affiliated organizations. According to ABC News, the Obama Foundation, which is overseeing the library competition, has accepted four final proposals. The president and first lady are expected to select the winning bid for the roughly $500 million project by March.
Competing for a place in holiday history—and a ten-week paid internship at the Oslo office of Snøhetta—entrants from fifty-nine countries submitted 243 proposals for a new logistics center for a very singular client: iconic global trading magnate, Santa Claus. The "Unbelievable Challenge" competition was organized by Finnish firm Ruukii Construction, the City of Oulu (Finland), Helsinki Design Week, and Snøhetta. Designs were evaluated not only for aesthetics, but for energy efficiency, sustainability, and suitability for the harsh climate conditions of the site, the Perävainio district of Oulu. The jurors were unanimous in their praise for the entries, and singled out several finalists for special mention. Of the winning project, titled Nothing is Impossible by Alexandru Oprita and Laurentiu Constantin of Romania (above), the panel stated, "The strength of this proposal is being able to exhibit an idea of surprise and magical character within the building itself. The magic happens at nighttime on the building's facade and there's a link to the investor—Mr. Santa Claus. It is feasible and innovative but not futuristic. It is also well thought through, from land use all the way to detailing." The five short-listed finalists (surely also on Santa's nice list)—whose projects, we notice, feature parking lots and loading docks instead of reindeer stables (below)—received that ever-reliable Christmas fallback gift: cash.
For those in the A/E/C practices, there is little doubt about the greatest gift of all: time. While AN can't source that elusive asset for you, we have assembled a collection of material goods that are designed to make life a little more elegant, efficient, and even fun. Happy holidays to all! Elements Collection J. Hill's Standard A fresh take on Irish cut crystal, this barware is marked by cuts and textures of varying depth, creating a graphic language. Designed by Scholten & Baijings. Ossidiana Alessi Fabricated out of cast aluminum, this old-school, new-style espresso makers comes in three sizes. Designed by Mario Trimarchi. Bauhaus Chess Set Chess House No prancing steeds or earnest foot soldiers here: Wood cubes, spheres, and cylinders comprose this 1923 chess set. Designed by Josef Hartwig. Glass House Snow Globe The Glass House You'll never have to battle the traffic on I-95 or shovel the snow at this finely crafted miniature masterwork. Flo Bedside/Desk Light Lumina Italia Rotate the head of this minimalist light fixture to focus the LED beam where it's wanted. In varnish-coated aluminum and steel, the fixture is also available in clamp, wall, floor, and grommet styles. Designed by Foster + Partners. FollowMe Lamp Marset Cordless and rechargable via USB, this oak-handled lamp shines a diffuse light through its polycarbonate shade. Designed by Inma Bermudez. Prismatic Scarves notNeutral From the product-design branch of Los Angeles-based architects Rios Clementi Hale Studios, these thirty-inch-square silk scarves are based on color studies for a competition project. Paul Strand: Master of Modern Photography Yale University Press Featuring more than 250 plates, this book by Philadelphia Museum of Art curators Peter Barberie and Amanda N. Bock chronicles the career of the seminal photographer. Louise Fili, Perfetto Pencils Princeton Architectural Press Graphic designer Louise Fili celebrates Italian typography with these two-tone pencils; related items include notecards and a book. Qlocktwo W Watch Biegert & Funk In this reactionary design to a digital world, a grid of 110 letters illuminates the time in text form. And it's multi-lingual: The watch communicates in English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Dutch, and Arabic. Brut Nature 2006 Louis Roederer Of his design for the packaging for this vintage, Philippe Starck says, "The contents are so potent I decided to design a bottle that was stripped of any superfluous embellishment." Shape of Sound Artifice Books Architect Victoria Meyers examines the dynamic relationship between architectural forms and materials and acoustics in this amply illustrated book. Snøhetta Limited Edition, XO Contemporary Cognac Braastad Adding Scandinavian cool to a classic French product, the graphic design team at Snøhetta uses subtle metallic colors and hand-lettering to reinvigorate the image of the stodgy spirit. Archaeologist Chopstick Rests Spin Ceramics Impeccably details and finished, these glazed clay pieces are both naturalistic and abstract in form. Eight pieces to a set; designed by Na An.
Some of the biggest names in architecture have been whittled out of a competition to design a new Beethoven Concert Hall—or Beethoven Festspielhaus—in the composer’s hometown of Bonn, Germany. When the competition's short list of ten proposals became an even-shorter list of three, the likes of Zaha Hadid, Snøhetta, JAHN and UNStudio were sent packing. David Chipperfield, however, made it through and is joined in the final three by Valentiny hvp architects from Luxembourg and Kadawittfeldarchitektur from Germany. The new hall, which is slated to break ground in 2016, is expected to host celebrations for Beethoven’s 250th birthday in 2020, and the 200th anniversary of his death in 2027. Out of the three finalists, Chipperfield definitely presents the most conservative scheme with four stacked cubes made of glass and spun concrete columns. “Assembled at various depths, the four segments combine to create a whole of architectural virtuosity,” explained the competition on its website. The actual concert hall is wrapped in a grained walnut veneer that can be seen through the structure’s façade. Kadawittfeldarchitektur takes a more dramatic approach with an amorphous structure clad in rippling bands of stone. The main structure is separated from a landscaped seating area through a glass enclosure. Oddly enough, the plan from Valentiny hvp architects looks more like “Zaha” than what the Queen of Swoop submitted herself. The firm creates a series of "overlapping bands of waves" that are said to crest behind a massive, Rhine River–facing glass wall. You can see Zaha's proposal and the nine others that were short-listed on the competition's website. One of these three final proposals is expected to be selected next year, following a cost estimation. The project is being privately financed, but is getting an injection of 39 million euros from the German government. The concert hall is expected to open in 2019. [h/t DesignBoom]
Archtober Building of the Day #28 Times Square Reconstruction Broadway and Seventh Avenue (West 42nd to West 47th Streets) Snøhetta “Looking for calm within the chaos,” was how Nick Koster of Snøhetta, described the firm’s design for the Times Square Reconstruction. Just then a topless woman dressed as a super hero sashayed past the Archtober tour group, which contained about a dozen school children. Snøhetta’s plan for Times Square is successful because it doesn’t assert itself as a piece of architecture or design. Instead, it serves as a foil for the craziness around it. At one of the brightest and loudest intersections in the world their goal was to create a space, “that’s open and flexible and can be used by a lot of different user groups for a lot of things,” said Koster. Broadway and 7th Avenue form a bowtie-shaped, four-acre space as they cross between 42 and 47 streets. Snøhetta’s challenge was to design a public space along the closed two-acre portion of Broadway. The constraints were many and various, from the “guests of the street,” as the city calls the utilities like Con Edison and Verizon whose cables lie beneath Broadway, to the Shuttle Train subway tunnel, which at some points is just three inches below the sidewalk. To unify the new public space the firm chose an iconic paving scheme anchored with fifty-foot stone benches, which are not yet installed. The dingy gum-covered sidewalk was demolished. What was once the street was raised to sidewalk level, and separated from the cross streets with a new granite curb. The former street and sidewalk were covered with a pattern of quartz-finished pavers punctuating by stainless steel bolts. “We wanted something really subtle that captures the light,” said Koster. Claire Felman, of Snøhetta, explained that the bolts are reminiscent of the marquis lights of “the great white way,” an older iteration of Times Square. Koster said a major objective was “the act of de-cluttering.” Events and vendors who use the plaza need electricity, but Snøhetta wanted to do away with the droning generators and wires that line the pavement. The solution was subterranean wiring built into the benches. The monolithic benches are also intended to direct the flow of pedestrian traffic and create quieter sub-spaces, as Koster put it, “a place of rest that people need.”
Tyler J. Kelley is a freelance journalist living in New York City. He also teaches printmaking at Parsons The New School for Design. Find more of his writing at the-jetty.com
On October 9, Daniel Libeskind marks the opening of Dwell on Design NY, a three-day event bringing together design luminaries for discussions and presentations on urban design and architecture. Other speakers at the conference include architect David Rockwell, Pentagram partner Michael Bierut, Designtex CEO Susan Lyons, Claire Fellman of Snøhetta, and many others. Highlights of Dwell on Design NY include self-guided tours of private residences in Tribeca, the Flatiron district, Harlem, and Soho; the curated retail Dwell Store; and CEU sessions. More information is available on the Dwell on Design website.