| Craig Dykers (*1961)| Christoph Kapeller (*1956) | Kjetil T. Thorsen (*1958)



Snøhetta is the name of a large mountain standing in the middle of Norway. Viking legend has it that it was the resting place for the most valiant of warrior souls – the abode of "Valhalla". Snøhetta is the name that Craig Dykers, Christoph Kapeller and Kjetil T. Thorsen have chosen for their architectural, landscaping and design agency. For them, a mountain represents a complex form, at once landscape, quasi-architectural object, and, in this particular instance, a powerful symbolic medium. It is a form which, in the final analysis, sums up their approach to architecture – an on-going, extensive approach whose intent, without any disciplinary divide, is to work not on objects but on environments, in all their varying dimensions. This approach is based first and foremost on a quest for conjunction between the different parties involved in construction, and principally, within the agency, between architects and landscape artists. For Snøhetta, landscape cannot be scaled down to a simple carpet of tamed greenery which forms the usual limits. Snøhetta develops an extended and inclusive landscape definition. Everything is part of the landscape, and actually forms it. The body itself is one of its forms. Architecture is quite "naturally" included in this definition. Snøhetta's minimalist and hypercontextual architecture invariably strives to take a back seat in relation to the reasons for the site, in the interests of the readability and coherence of its environment. The Snøhetta agency, which was set up in Oslo in 1987, started out with the project for the new Alexandrian Library, and won the competition. Today, after a long on-site period, the building is being completed, thus winding up a highly productive phase for the Norwegian team, which has authored many projects and works in the realm of institutional architecture (museums, libraries, facilities...). This phase has also been one of formulation and development to do with working methods and organization. The Snøhetta team has once and for all rejected the classical vertical functioning of architectural agencies, where the person or persons who get their ideas across, at the top of the pyramid, are those most removed from the realities and details of the project. This verticality, responsible for wasted time and lost efficiency, recurs, in their view, in the management and uses of buildings, once finished. Snøhetta has radically opted for a horizontal and cross-disciplinary praxis, refocusing on the project. To this end, they have, for example, developed a computer system in which all the documents and data to do with a given project are centralized in a single Internet file – a hyperfile. Access to this hyperfile, which is universal and available to one and all, imposes a horizontal working organization in which each person can work live on the project. By playing the part of a kind of diary that is systematically updated and dated, the hyperfile keeps tabs on the project as it develops in time. It also means that there is never split thinking about techniques and technologies, the construction, and the purely architectural parameters. The Snøhetta team makes this search for efficiency, flexibility and professionalism available to a sensitive, significant and almost metaphysical architecture, incorporating the most immaterial and the most fluctuating elements of the real : time passing, the weather, light, the seasons, movement.



Bibliothèque Alexandrine
Alexandrie, égypte, en cours d'achèvement


The most prominent characteristic of the new library in Alexandria is its circular, tilting form ; rising from the ground to reveal up to 32 m high, massive stone wall. The 5500m2 of granite are hand carved with inscriptions of historic and contemporary signs and symbols. The building's roof, a glass and honey comb aluminium 14 by 9 m bay construction, allows the interior space to open toward the Mediterranean Sea and the reflected north light to enter the interior. The main event of this interior is a great room, similar to the main spaces within libraries of previous centuries, which reveals the building's form into the reading space. The reading space is developed in an original manner along terraces that conceal the limited access books, providing a new standard in library planning. These terraces also allow for unobstructed views for the reader and division of the different subjects of the collection. Each terrace can be reached by stairs and lifts from the circulation spine of the building. This spine also provides the separation of staff and public movement in the building.


Lillehammer Olympic Art Museum
Lillehammer, Norvège, 1993


For the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway the Winter Olympic Committee collaborated with the Lillehammer Art Museum to build a new addition onto their existing building. Situated in the center of the small rural town, the project would be a centerpiece design of strong and responsive character and create a dynamic interaction with the concrete brutalist style of the original structure. The foremost feature of the project is its smooth, undulating and inclining wooden form which faces the towns main square. The tilted and curved wall forms the three major gallery spaces and proposes a new interpretation of a traditional way of viewing art. With paintings mounted on a plane inclined toward the viewer, glare is minimized and physical comfort maximized. The gracefull curve of the wall is further emphasized by the introduction of natural light along its edge, creating a visual separation from the ceiling. In contrast to the sculptural front, the façade facing the existing museum is a straightforward glass wall and defines the garden space between the buildings.


Zumtobel Staff Light Workshop
Oslo, Norvège, 1999


In the case of the light workshop, a non-design approach resulted in a room of 30 by 30 by 6 meters, creating a "space" for light in all its various forms with high flexibility and a wide variety of user options. The space is carved from the earth and the workshop space resultantly replaces the mass of the earth and in its most comprehensive interpretation could be seen as the creation of space without creating a building. A curving glass roof that is both a lifted ground plane and a protective skin covers the workshop. This large skylight makes the natural lighting conditions of the space relate mainly to the light from above. There are however two long, slight ramps descending into the workshop from east and west, slowly revealing the relationship between morning and afternoon light and earth. The volume of the space itself is recreated at night by means of a light volume equivalent to the volume of the space. The negative/positive relationship of volume becomes the main issue of the building in context with its function.


Karmøy Fishing Museum
Karmøy, Norvège, 1998


Situated on the rocky Norwegian west coast on the island of Karmøy, the new fishing museum is to represent the long standing sea and fishing culture of the area. Rather than recreating a traditional home solely for the purpose of display, the new museum becomes a more neutral, sculptural form delicately placed as a reference into the sloping landscape. While it is somewhat dominant, portraying its importance as an institution, it's scale and related landscape features keep the building from overpowering its surroundings. The main structure consists of load bearing in-situ concrete walls which allow the building to cantilever 7 meters over the terrain. A technique of woven screens using a native coastal bush called Einer, is used along one side of the building. The concrete and Einer combine into a meeting of present and past, allowing the transparent glass surfaces to emphasize on view and light. In contrast to the concrete frame, the woven and glazed walls can be removed to more easily allow for the extension of the museum in the future.


Craig Dykers (1961)
Architecte BS U.T. Austin

Christoph Kapeller (1956)
Architecte MNAL. Dipl. Graz, M.S. UCLA.

Kjetil Thorsen (1958)
Architecte MNAL. Dipl. Graz

1987 — Création de l'Agence à Oslo, Norvège

Principaux projets et réalisations

2000 — "Bibliothèque d'Alexandrie" Egypte (en cours) ; "Hamar Town Hall" Hamar, Norvège (en cours)
1999 — "Zumtobel Staff Light Workshop" Oslo, Norvège (réalisé) ; "Institut de neurobiologie" Marseille, France (lauréat) ; "King Fahad National library" Riyad, Arabie Saoudite (concours) ; "Norwegian Embassy in Berlin" Allemagne (réalisée) ; "Strømme Throndsen Design as" Oslo (rénovation) ; "Uranienborg Terrace" Oslo (rénovation)
1998 — "Karmøy Fishing Museum" Karmøy, Norvège (réalisé) ; "Eidsvoll Building Trades School" Eidsvoll, Norvège (réalisée) ; "Nordvoll School for Autistic Persons" Oslo (réalisée)
1997 — "Kansai-Kan Library" Kansaï-Kan, Japon (2ème prix) ; "Skistua School" Narvik, Norvège (réalisée) ; "Fjaler Media Center" Fjaler, Norvège (réalisé) ; "Telenor Headquarters" Oslo (concours) ; "Three R's Cultural Center" Oslo (concours)
1996 — "Danish National Archive" Copenhague (concours) ; "Sami Congress Hall" Karasjok, Norvège (concours) ; "National Theater Subway Station" Oslo (concours)
1993 — "Lillehammer Olympic Art Museum" Lillehammer, Norvège (réalisé)

Bibliographie sélective de Snøhetta

1995 — Archis n°9 ; Mur n°3
1994 — Techniques et Architectures n°408 ; Garten+Landschaft n°12
1990 — Architectural Review n°1120 ; Skala n°19 ; Byggekunst n°1