Knut Hamsun Center / Steven Holl Architects

Hamsunsenteret under construction, 18.july 09

Architect: Steven Holl Architects
Location: Hamarøy,
Program: Historical museum for writer Knut Hamsun including exhibition areas, library, reading room, cafe and 230 seat auditorium
Client: Nordland Fylkeskommune (County)
Project Area: 2,271 sqm
Project year: 1994-2009
Photographs: Ernst Furuhatt & Architects

Hamsunsenteret under bygging, juli2009 _sef7466-copy 180620091723 model

This center dedicated to Hamsun is located above the Arctic Circle near village of Presteid of Hamarøy and the farm where the writer grew up. The museum will include exhibition areas, a library and reading room, a cafe and an auditorium. The concept for the museum is “building as a body,” creating a battleground of invisible forces.

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The tarred black wood exterior skin is characteristic of the great wooden stave Norse churches. The spine of the building body is the central elevator, providing handicapped and freight access to all parts of the building. At the roof garden the long grass reflects the traditional Norwegian sod roofs in a different way. Strange, surprising and phenomenal experiences in space perspective and light will provide an inspiring frame for the exhibitions.

Cite: "Knut Hamsun Center / Steven Holl Architects" 07 Aug 2009. ArchDaily. Accessed 22 May 2015. <>
  • StructureHub Blog

    Neato, swell – they both apply. For so simple a structure, Mr. Holl crafted a sculpture w/ much depth, even using shadow as an element of design, by tilting a portion of the facade outward. Clever model, too.

  • llama llama llama

    Stick to watercolours, imho.

  • Thomas

    Stunning, perfect!! I guess you would have to know Hamsun’s writing to understand this building and its depth.

  • Richie

    The “hairy” roof seems like a fairly arbitrary gesture and I think the building would be better without it but I like it a lot apart from that. It makes a strong presence in the landscape without looking out of place, and the interconnected internal spaces twisting up through the tower seem interesting (though you don’t really get to see them properly here).

    • Andrew

      It’s a common feature of old Norwegian houses to have “lawns” on top of them. It also relates to several of his books.

  • Mr. Cheap

    Funny that a nazi building is so black.

    • Andrew

      Get over yourself, the building contains ample information about Hamsun’s view on Nazism. It’s an important part of his history, and it’s on display at the museum!
      Hamsun’s work is considered important for the whole world – and his work deserves recognition despite his politics.

      On the other hand his views on Nazism were strange and largely motivated by his anti-British views. Germany was always more important to Norway culturally than England, this changed after WWII.
      Most of our important painters and writers lived in Germany [long before the war].

  • Mauro

    One of the few architects that produce architecture…
    I don´t think it´s a nazi building, sorry ´bout that Mr. Cheap.

  • milan

    Real Architectural poetry…Steven Holl in his essential.Beautiful.

  • Andrés Briceño

    This is an amayzing building, simple, expressing.
    It’s a piece of work

  • sullka

    The building seems to work, it fits the program, to me it’s somehow awkward, a little to theatrical, but overall I like it, it looks inviting.

    Now, I also think someone should call a child protecting agency, I think Steven Holl is exploiting his children, they’re being forced to make his sketches, probably without pay.

  • darth

    the bart simpson museum. love it.

  • trimtab21

    it reminds me too much of a fortress or rampart tower with those narrow windows. And all that bare concrete is dreadful…that idiom was warn out in the 1980′s.

    • Thomas

      There’s not a single square-meter of bare concrete in this project! The interior is painted white concrete. There’s a pic of bare concrete from during the construction of the building. I think you would find bare concrete during construction in many projects!

  • pablo cid barraza

    lovely… i really dig holl’s sketches.

  • Jānis Andersons

    Thanks for Norway, which gived (but so late) this beautiful arcitectural contribution for one of the world’s greatest writers.

  • TheArchitect

    Hmm, unique! I like it. But it did not seem large enough for a library and museum.

  • direk

    I love this project, but it would be perfect if this “building” can represent the feeling of the”hunger”body. Anyway this project is great actually.

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  • Dirk

    In the end, a finely clad box with a green roof, somewhat interesting lighting conditions, and quite an unfortunate plan diagram.