Snøhetta is an award-winning international Oslo- and New York-based architecture firm, which has become one of the most discussed and sought-after practices today, due to their radical rethinking of the relationship between building and landscape.
Formed in 1989 in Oslo, Norway, Snøhetta arrived at the international architectural scene with quite a splash. After having unsuccessfully partaken in a number of competitions in the firm’s native country of Norway, they entered an open, international competition for the design of the new Library of Alexandria and won. Since this early and unexpected rise to fame, Snøhetta has won numerous other noteworthy commissions, such as the Oslo Opera House, and the 9/11 Memorial Grounds, which precipitated the opening of their New York office.
The fact that the practice takes its name from one of Norway’s highest mountain peaks (as opposed to one or all of the partners) is no coincidence. In fact it is very telling – not just about the inspiration they draw from the natural landscape but also to a large extent about the role of the partners. Both of Snøhetta’s principals – in Oslo, Norwegian-born Kjetil Thorsen, and in New York, American-born Craig Dykers, who has lived in Norway for many years – downplay their personal contributions to the firm’s designs, and neither has an instantly recognizable style. Dykers has described Snøhetta’s approach as being “collectivist,” while Thorsen has described the firm’s ethos “open, direct, accessible and egalitarian.”
A deep-seated respect for diverse backgrounds and cultures is a corner-stone in Snøhetta’s philosophy, and it is reflected by the fact that the practice is composed of designers, architects and landscape architects from around the world. Currently they are employing approximately 130 staff members working on projects in Europe, Asia, the United States and Canada.
Among the many acknowledgements, the firm has received was the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 2004 and the Mies van der Rohe Award in 2009.
Watch an enlightening short film about a couple of Snøhetta’s projects below or visit their website here.