projects we love: verdant architects

Det här är ett utdrag ur Projects We Love 2018. Norwegian firm Snøhetta has designed an industrial area in Holmen that has a distinctive shape reminiscent of a museum. Inside, the personality of the space is just as unique.

Situated across two islands of the Vesterålen archipelago in north Norway, Sortland contains abundant swathes of natural beauty – the sort of breathtakingly rugged topography for which the country is famed. On a clear winter’s night, the aurora borealis transforms the sky into a luminiferous tapestry. “It’s a spectacular place,” says Bjørg Aabø, senior interior designer at the awardwinning architecture practice Snøhetta. “Mountains, fjords and the ocean. There’s midnight sun in the summer.”

Aabø is one of the architects of the Holmen Industrial Area. Holmen – Norwegian for “islet” – is the new base for Holmøy Maritime, a family-run fishing business. A 10km drive from Sortland’s eponymous central town, it sits atop the sea, surrounded by greenfingered fjords – an interesting site for Snøhetta, a practice renowned for its sense of place, to work within. “We don’t have a signature-style,” affirms Aabø. “Instead, we’re very site-specific. Our plans are based upon what a building will contain and where it is located.” For a practice whose best-known projects are public, cultural and largely urban, Holmen’s industrial function and verdant setting might seem something of a break from the norm.

Not that Snøhetta projects are ever normal. The practice’s story is one of the most extraordinary in contemporary architecture. In 1987, the architects Kjetil Trædal Thorse Craig and Edward Dykers coordinated a team to enter an architectural competition to build a new library in Alexandria, the Egyptian city once home to the ancient world’s most famous repository of written knowledge. After working on their proposal for five weeks, the young group pipped more than 1,400 other practices to the commission. The Bibliotheca Alexandrina was completed in 2002, whereupon it won both a World Architecture Award and the Aga Khan Award. Snøhetta was instantly enshrined as a practice at the forefront of the discipline – a fitting position for an architecture practice that was named after one of Norway’s tallest mountains.

Det här är en del av Projects We Love 2018. 

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