Norwegian Exposure: Oslo studio studies concept, form, and material

April 4, 2011

The spring semester's Oslo Option Studio: Lofoten Timber Towers explored the relationship between architectural concepts, structural forms, and material choices. Taught by architecture professor Mark Cruvellier and Beate Hølmebakk of the Oslo School of Architecture and Design, the studio focused on the design of small but significant architectural installations in the form of timber bird-watching towers on the spectacular Lofoten Islands located off the Norwegian coast.

The studio traveled to Norway in March, where students met with local architects, engineers, and artists who have worked on projects that are related to the materials, scale, and natural landscape issues integral to the studio's design agenda. Students attended a presentation about Peter Zumthor's Memorial in Memory of the Victims of the Witch Trials in Vardø, lectures by Oslo School of Architecture faculty members Per Olaf Fjeld and Michael Hensel, and a guest lecture by Yves Weinand of the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) on his research on innovative timber technologies.  

The trip also included tours of the Oslo National Opera and Ballet building, the National Architecture Museum, and presentations at the offices of Snøhetta and JSA. On the final day, students traveled two hours north of Oslo to Hamar to visit Sverre Fehn's Hedmark Museum, which Paul Joran (M.Arch. '11) described as "amazingly elegant and inspiring." The day ended with a memorable afternoon spent at the lakefront home and studio of large-scale timber and stone sculptor Knut Wold.  

"The Oslo trip was one of the most diverse and educational trips I have ever been on," says Yazma Rajbhandary (B.Arch. '12). "We were given the opportunity to interact with an international panel of critics, hear lectures by a range of professionals we would have otherwise never had the opportunity to see, and were then allowed to sit and admire an artist's work in the form of his unique home. This trip solidified the goal of the studio; to show us that small-scale architecture is no less impressive and no less monumental than larger work."

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