The innovative, award-winning, and environmentally conscious architectural firm, Snøhetta, is featured in a multi-faceted exhibition. SNØHETTA Architecture – Landscape – Interior offers insight into the design and construction of the firm’s most important works, including the celebrated Bibliotheca Alexandrina in Alexandria, Egypt, the recently completed Norwegian National Opera and Ballet in Oslo, Norway, and the National September 11 Memorial Museum Pavilion in New York. Organized and initially presented by the National Museum – Architecture in 2009, this exhibition includes films, photographs, drawings, models, and interactive learning devices. Architects incorporated local and historical materials, from a hieroglyph-covered granite façade to papyrus in the reflecting pool. Its tilting, circular construction captures iconography that spans culture and continents.
Formed in 1989 in Oslo when three Norwegians, one Austrian, and one American won a competition to design Alexandria’s new library, Snøhetta is an international architectural and design firm with its main offices in both Oslo and New York. The Snøhetta team now consists of 120 internationally diverse staff collaborating to produce eco-friendly designs connecting culture and landscape. The firm’s philosophy sets a high standard for all of its projects to be socially conscious and sustainable. Its designs are characterized by a symbiotic relationship between context and landscape; they aim to achieve harmony between buildings and their surroundings, both cultural and environmental.
Among Snøhetta’s first completed projects, the Bibliotheca Alexandrina was commissioned to resurrect the long-extinct library of Alexandria. The structure embodies the unique juncture of its location: nestled between the contemporary metropolis of Alexandria, its ancient Mediterranean harbor, and the vast Sahara Desert. As the lines extend from earth to horizon to sky, they pull the visitors through past, present, and future; the physical design parallels the human experience of time, reminding visitors of the unique crossroads at which the Bibliotheca stands.
Since this initial project, the team has completed several other works projecting a similar vision of creating accessible designs integrating surrounding culture, climate, and ecosystems. This most notably includes the 2008 Norwegian National Opera and Ballet, which won the 2009 Mies van der Rohe Award—the European Union Prize for contemporary architecture. Upcoming projects include the King Abdulaziz Center for Knowledge and Culture, Saudi Arabia, and the National September 11 Memorial Museum Pavilion, New York City, along with a number of new projects in North and Central America from Canada to Guatemala.
The exhibition presents a comprehensive selection of Snøhetta’s innovative designs using various media including films, photographs, computer visualizations, drawings, models, and an interactive multi-touch table. Divided into eight units, the installation presents 11 of Snøhetta’s most important projects. Models of several Snøhetta designs will be on view, including the Bibliotheca Alexandrina and the Opera House in Oslo, the Ras Al-Khaimah Gateway Project, the King Abdulaziz Center for Knowledge and Culture, and Tubaloon—Kongsberg Jazz Festival Band Shelter. Through these diverse means of demonstration, this installation provides a glimpse into the working methods and visions of the architects at Snøhetta, and a preview of some of their work to come.
Commissioned by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the exhibition is produced by Norway’s National Museum of Art, Architecture, and Design in close collaboration with Snøhetta.
Read Ada Louise Huxtable’s recent review in the WSJ here.
Read Pierre Alexandre de Looz’s recent review on artinfo.com here.