Portrait of a Norwegian Architect Company


The Norwegian architect company, Snøhetta, founded in 1987 by a group of building and landscape architects, embraced their two fields and created cohesion between buildings and landscapes.

The best way to have an overview of their many prestigious projects and philosophy is to visit Danish Architecture Center in Copenhagen these days.

King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture
King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture

Snøhetta wants design to be alive. Whether it is on paper or in wood or water, it is alive, diverse and difficult to capture.

From the beginning, Snøhetta was based on the collective, and contrary to many other architecture firms, it is not named after its founder. The name is inspired by the location of the apartment where Snøhetta was founded. It was located upstairs from a bar called Dovrehallen in Oslo, and since Dovre is a mountain range in Norway where the tallest mountain is named Snøhetta, it was an easy choice.

Bibliotecha Alexandria
Bibliotecha Alexandria

The exhibition focuses on the large drawing table, which is always the center stage in all architectural companies. In a bird’s perspective you may experience several large photographs of activities by this piece of furniture,

The exhibition, ‘Snøhetta – World Architecture’, lasts through 27 September and center on how human nature interacts with a range of conditions – cultural, social, economic and environmental – in the world around us,  and how this thinking drives Snøhetta’s work.

Maggie's Center, Aberdeen
Maggie’s Center, Aberdeen

Snøhetta is known primarily for building the Oslo Opera House, which is quite characteristic for their work. It connects architecture with the landscape and nature that surrounds it and it is democratic in its expression, having opened up the opera house to a new audience who come here to spend time on the big roof overlooking the fiord.

All their projects are signed ‘Snøhetta’ only.  No work is signed by a star architect; they embrace a collective social democratic, sympathetic model.

Norwegian Wild Reindeer Center Pavillion
Norwegian Wild Reindeer Center Pavillion

Snøhetta is worth getting to know for many important buildings and projects. The exhibition is an opportunity to meet the talented people, see some of their crazy projects and experience the alternative thinking that have gained them worldwide fame and acclaim.

You are invited to view models from the initial stage to finish, together with the architects’ working tools in a creative chaos. There is also a separate room where children as well as adults can make their own models.

San Francisco Museum
San Francisco Museum

Snøhetta won everyone’s hearts with the Opera House in Oslo and since then, Snøhetta has been one of most prominent international architecture firms.

But what sets them apart from other architects? According to Snøhetta themselves, the difference is that they often find their inspiration in the landscape and social aspects. But how do they transform this into beautiful and innovative architecture?

Ocean Space Center, Norway
Ocean Space Center, Norway

“The background for this exhibition is quite simple: Snøhetta is one of the best architecture firms in the world right now. We witness this in their incredible architecture and in the special energy and atmosphere that characterize their office. We are therefore very excited to invite visitors into Snøhetta’s world for a rather intimate encounter with the people and the unique, human, generous, inclusive approach that results in such fantastic work. We hope that visitors will become part of the ‘office’, ask the architects questions and offer ideas and input,” says Martin Winther, Head of Communication, Danish Architecture Centre.

– Founded in 1987 in Oslo.
– Their most prestigious projects are the Library in Alexandria, Oslo Opera and 9/11 Museum in New York.
– The architect company consists of 150 employees and have offices in several countries, e. g. Oslo, Copenhagen, New York and Cairo.
Earlier exhibitions:
– Architecture – Landscape – Interior (National Museum, Stockholm, 2009)
– A House to Die In (Institute of Cintempry Art (ICA), London, 2012.

Portrait of a Norwegian Architect Company, compiled by Tor Kjolberg

Feature image (on top):  Oslo Opera by Snøhetta, Norway. Photo: Visit Oslo