06. July 2012 / Robert Schäfer
Now Showing at Louisiana: New Nordic - Architecture & Identity
Architecture in Scandinavia is once again a hot-topic. Whether it be Norway or Finland, architecture is being increasingly regarded as an export commodity. Various exhibitions, grants, prizes and government initiatives are all acting to push the profession to great heights here. The recent opening of the Norwegian Tourist Routes on the 16th of June, including the inauguration of the new rest stop Trollstigen by Reiulf Ramstad Architects (Oslo), draws attention to many fine examples of contemporary architecture built along 18 scenic routes throughout the country.
Image: Lundgaard & Tranberg Arkitekter, Installation shot, a pavillon from the exhibition New Nordic - Architecture & Identity installed in front of the main entrance at Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebaek. Photo: Kim Hansen
The exhibition New Nordic - Architecture and Identity is showing at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, which is located in Humlebaek north of Copenhagen, until October 21, 2012. The exhibition signals a stronger focus on architecture for the museum, tracing the connections between architecture, culture and identity. It also aims to find out what architectural qualities can be specifically labelled as Nordic through asking questions such as: what role does the place, and the landscape have on the architecture in Scandinavia. A film shows a conversation between Finnish architect Juhani Pallasmaa and Swiss architect Peter Zumthor chatting entertainingly about the importance of designing with respect to the landscape (of course not a new idea when we think back to Christian Norberg-Schulz).
Image: Juhani Pallasmaa (left) and Peter Zumthor (right) in conversation. Photo: Robert Schäfer
The exhibition also focuses on the responsibility of the architect in contributing to new societies, which leads in turn to new styles of architecture being developed. Above all, the exhibition is devoted to public space, a concept that was not so big in Scandinavian cities some decades ago. With the new Opera House in Oslo, Snøhetta not only created a cultural hub, but also introduced a new dimension of public open space to the city. With their theatre, Lundgaard & Tranberg offered Copenhageners a truly democratic, free-use space around the building, granting access to the harbour a stone's throw from the Nyhavn precinct.
Two installations from Stig L. Andersson and Jan Gehl, both from Copenhagen, respectively occupy a space in the exhibition. Landscape architect Andersson created a space that reminds us with its sloping plains of his city-dune project at SEB Bank in Copenhagen. Touch screens let one flip through a series of projects showing the diversity of design in public spaces.
Life between Buildings illustrates Jan Gehls messages he has now transported for 25 years as a consultant in all major cities on the globe. In this interesting 180-degree didactic projection there is a call for cities to be designed for the people. Gehl believes first urban life, then the space, and then the buildings should be devised from the previous one in this order. This is possible a point of agreement when it comes to the new Scandinavian buildings exhibited here.
Photo: Robert Schäfer
The exhibition is an exciting multi-media presentation with video, models, photographs and even five houses built to explain the regional relevance; manifestos of Studio Granda, Iceland, Johan Celsing from Sweden, Jarmund / Vingsnaes from Norway, Lassi Hirvilammi from Finland, and Lundgaard and Tranberg from Denmark.
What can one take away from the exhibition? Probably the realisation that the secret of Nordic architecture has always been an inevitable close relationship with the landscape.
The exhibition has been published in a catalogue.