The ‘New Nordic – Architecture & Identity’ exhibition, which opened this past Thursday and is on view until October 21, is the first exhibition in a new series at Louisiana Museum of Modern Art. The exhibit explores the relationship of architecture to culture and identity. The series deals with architecture as a field where collective memories and narratives are reflected materially and spatially. It attempts to reveal whether certain special ‘Nordic’ features recur in architecture, and whether this involves a fundamental formal idiom that is regularly reinterpreted. Five Nordic architects - Studio Granda, Iceland, Johan Celsing, Sweden, Jarmund/Vigsnæs (JVA), Norway, Lassila Hirvilammi, Finland and Lundgaard & Tranberg, Denmark – have been invited to build a house that serves as an expression of the regional identity and experience from which the individual architect comes. More images and information on the exhibition after the break.
Through three themes, the exhibition explores how the latest developments in the five Nordic countries are taking form. The themes stress the new Nordic, including a rediscovery of the tradition. But now the geographically specific qualities are being used in new ways: the traditions are being interpreted anew and old boundaries are being transcended rather than defined sharply. The Nordic is perhaps mainly evident in the clash between the architect’s cultural roots and professional tradition on the one hand, and on the other the fact that the global perspective is an inevitable condition for humanity today.
Theme I: Reassessing the site-specific The first theme of the exhibition is reinterpretations of the place-specific. The introduction to the theme is a film where the Swiss architect Peter Zumthor and his Finnish colleague Juhani Pallasmaa discuss Nordic culture and identity. In the Nordic countries there is great variation in places and landscapes, and architects are showing widespread interest in understanding and interpreting the surroundings in their buildings. The architects share the view of place as a mutable entity in which they can interweave physical, cultural and mental processes to renew place-specific building culture.
Theme II: Reinterpreting community Abroad, the welfare system is what is usually associated with the Nordic countries. How are the welfare ideals manifested in present-day architecture? This section tries to point to some tendencies in public building that reflect the distinctive Nordic sense of community. The Nordic welfare model is viewed here as a processual, mutable entity that helps to form what is perceived as Nordic identity and culture: where is the community going, and what new institutions represent the welfare society of the future?
Theme III: Reclaiming public space The third and last theme in the exhibition focuses on specific articulations of public space, and on how values in the Nordic countries are expressed in the way the city is arranged. Among other things, this theme presents visions of temporary and experimental urban spaces. For this section too, two important installations have been created. In the first the architectural firm SLA has created an artificial landscape as a setting for a number of narratives about how one can bring land¬scape elements into the city to create sustainable environments where nature and landscape are combined in integrated ways.
The second installation, with the title ‘Life Between Buildings’ is about the architect Jan Gehl’s ideas on everyday life in the spaces of the city. His research on how city space is experienced and used has resulted in specific proposals for ‘human solutions’. Compared with a traditional working process where buildings and traffic are at the centre, Gehl turns things on their head and looks – in descending order – at life, space and buildings.
The exhibition is curated by the museum curator Kjeld Kjeldsen and Michael Asgaard Andersen, architect MAA and Ph.D. Exhibition architects: Luise Hooge Lorenc, Maya Lahmy and Mads Kjædegaard. The exhibition has been realized with support from Realdania, sponsor of Louisiana’s architecture exhibitions. For more information, please visit here.