• Discussion

Design Diplomacy 2018 – Norway

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In the old villa neighborhood of Eira is situated Norway’s embassy, which has been designed by the Norwegian architects Retzius and Bjoland. The building has been voted many times the ugliest building in Helsinki, partly because it doesn’t fit in the district it is located in. The building is surprisingly bright inside due to its huge windows typical of the architecture of the time. In 2013, ALA Architects updated the building to meet today’s technical, aesthetic and functional requirements. The assignment also included interior design.

At the Norwegian Embassy’s residence, we’ll hear from the designers of the new Oodi library Juho Grönholm and Samuli Woolston of ALA Architects as well as the architects of a new library in Oslo Marius Mowe and Einar Hagem.

The new main branch of Deichman, Oslo’s public library, is currently under construction in Bjørvika. When it opens in 2019, Oslo will have a modern and dynamic library that contains not only Deichman’s extensive book collections but also a movie theatre, media workshops, gaming zones, lounges and a restaurant – among other things.

The library’s architecture is closely tied to its role as a public space. The top of the building cantilevers out to announce its presence to the visitors that arrive from Oslo’s city center and the central station. Cuts in the facade mark the entrances the east, west, and south, welcoming people from all sides of the city. Diagonal light shafts cut through the building and connect indoor spaces with the streets outside and the nearby Opera House. After dark, the building will glow and change looks as a reflection of all the different activities and events that take place inside.

Einar Hagem and Marius Mowe

Einar Hagem is the co-founder of Lund Hagem Architects. Einar Hagem graduated from The Norwegian University of science and technology (NTNU) in 1986, after studying architecture in conducting under Prof. Sverre Fehn at Oslo School of Architecture in 1985 and landscape architecture at the University of Georgia in 1980-1981. After a period of working at Lund architects, Einar Hagem founded Lund Hagem Architects together with Svein Lund in 1990.

Over the past two decades, the Lund Hagem Architects has been driven by a consistent approach following a Nordic design tradition. The office has won numerous prestigious competitions and received a number of awards and citations for design excellence.

Marius Mowe is a founding partner at Atelier Oslo. He has worked for Sverre Fehn (2002-2006) on National Architecture museum, Glacier Museum, Hamar museum and Gyldendal publishing house. In 2006 he founded the architecture studio Atelier Oslo together with Nils Ole Brandtzaeg, Thomas Liu, and Jonas Norsted. Since then he has been a guest critic at AHO Oslo and NTNU Trondheim and has been a jury member in national open competitions Culture House Notodden and Gystadmarka.

Atelier Oslo’s portfolio includes projects ranging from large housing projects to single-family houses and small installations. They won the international competition for the new central library in Oslo in 2009, Oslo Architect’s Association’s Architecture Prize in 2016, наградата Sundts premie 2016. Nominee of the Mies van der Rohe award 2016.

Juho Grönholm and Samuli Woolston

Architects Juho Grönholm and Samuli Woolston are two of the co-founders and partners at ALA Architects. Juho is both an experienced team leader and a visionary artist promoting rich, memorable architecture independent of any set styles. He is the partner in charge of the metro stations and is currently also leading the design team for the expansion of the Helsinki Airport. Samuli has a strong interest in interdisciplinary design and planning projects, and is an experienced leader of multinational project teams. He was the lead designer of the Lappeenranta Theatre and the renovation of Dipoli and currently works as the lead designer of the Saukonlaituri parking garage in Helsinki. In addition to the daily office work they have acted as visiting professors at both Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation and Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts at Washington University in St. Louis’ Helsinki International Semester 2015.

The Helsinki based ALA Architects, founded in 2005, specializes in cultural buildings, renovation projects and terminal design. ALA’s built projects include Kilden Performing Arts Centre, the renovation and expansion of Kuopio City Theatre, Lappeenranta City Theatre, the renovation and repurposing of Dipoli – the Main Building of Aalto University, and Aalto University and Keilaniemi Metro Stations. The Helsinki Central Library Oodi will open in December 2018. The design of three more metro stations along the western extension of the Helsinki metro line, the expansion and renovation of the Helsinki Airport Terminal 2, and a new Marriott Hotel in Tampere are underway.

The event is full.


Seats are limited and binding registration starts in August.

The event is part of the Helsinki Design Week Design Diplomacy discussion series, which open the doors to Helsinki-based ambassadors’ residences. See the participating embassies and their schedules here.


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