Canadian Architect


Steven Holl Architects wins two international architecture awards

July 26, 2010
by Canadian Architect

Steven Holl Architects has received international architecture awards for the Knut Hamsun Centre in Hamarøy, Norway and the Herning Museum of Contemporary Art in Herning, Denmark. The awards, administered annually by the Chicago Athenaeum: Museum of Architecture and Design and the European Centre for Architecture, Art, Design and Urban Studies honour “new and cutting-edge design” and aim to promote “excellence in architecture and urbanism from a global point of view.”


The Knut Hamsun Centre, completed August 2009, is dedicated to the lauded 20th-century Norwegian novelist Knut Hamsun and includes exhibition areas, a library and reading room, a café, and an auditorium. The building is conceived as an archetypal and intensified compression of spirit in space and light, concretizing a Hamsun character in architectonic terms. The building uses the vernacular style as inspiration for reinterpretation. The stained black wood exterior skin is characteristic of the great wooden stave Norse churches. On the roof garden, bamboo recalls to traditional Norwegian sod roofs in a contemporary way. The rough white-painted and the concrete interiors are characterized by diagonal rays of light calculated to ricochet through the section on certain days of the year. The building recently received a 2010 AIA NY Honor Award and the North Norwegian Architecture Award.


The Herning Museum of Contemporary Art, which opened its doors in September 2009, includes permanent and temporary exhibition galleries, a 150-seat auditorium, music rehearsal rooms, a restaurant, a media library, and administrative offices. Viewed from above, the roof geometry resembles a collection of shirt sleeves laid over the gallery spaces. Truck tarps were inserted into the white concrete formwork to yield a fabric-like texture to the building’s exterior walls. The curved roofs bring balanced natural lights to the galleries, and the loose edges of the plan offer spaces for the café, auditorium, lobby, and offices. Gallery spaces are orthogonal and finely proportioned for visual and installation art. The design fuses landscape and architecture in a one-level building and aims at “building the site.” The surrounding landscape is partially shaped in the reverse-curve of the geometry of the roof. In June 2010, the museum received a 2010 RIBA International Award.


For more information on the work of Steven Holl Architects, please visit, and for more information on the International Architecture Awards, please visit


knut hamsun centre
knut hamsun centre

Canadian Architect

Canadian Architect

Canadian Architect is a magazine for architects and related professionals practicing in Canada. Canada's only monthly design publication, Canadian Architect has been in continuous publication since 1955.
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