On-Going Conversations

Ingerid Helsing Almaas 

Looking at the work of Snøhetta, from the earliest competition entries to their current projects under construction, you are struck by the lack of a theme tune. Many architects strive to develop a recogniseable signature, they pursue the same spatial or structural obsessions through all their projects, formulate a fixed method, perhaps even a style. There are, however, very few recognizable similarities among Snøhetta’s projects. If you didn’t know it, you would be hard pressed to guess that Hamar Town Hall and the Tubaloon in Kongsberg, or the Oslo Opera House and the San Francisco MOMA Expansion, for example, were all works by the same practice, even by the same people. You can date them, probably. And perhaps point to some sources of inspiration, although even that is getting harder. But most striking is the difference between the projects – in formal approach, material strategies, the experiences offered. This is not a question of inconsistency – you realize as you study their work that rather than being variant expressions of a central theme, these buildings are all the outcomes of different conversations. In different places, with different people, and with very different conclusions...[+]

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