Visit to Norway – Stavanger / Helen & Hard

April 26, 2010

Tonight I am in Stavanger, southern Norway – to visit Helen & Hard Architects. I’ve just spent an amazing day with the Helen & Hard team, not only getting an update on their ‘Ratatosk’ climbing structure for the ‘1:1’ exhibition but, most importantly, having the opportunity to visit some of their built structures. I started the morning by spending a few hours at their studio, meeting the rest of the office, and getting a brief intro into some of their recent projects, looking at models and drawings etc. The image above shows some tests they have been carrying out for the proposed woven willow roof for Ratatosk. Below, you can see the latest rapid-prototyped maquette for the structure.

It was my first opportunity to meet Siv Helene Stangeland (one of the partners) who in this video, together with Reinhard Kropf (the other lead partner in the practice) takes us through the ‘Geopark’, a public project by the docks of Stavanger. Later on I get to see some v.exciting, latest development images of the structure – straight from the wood workshop where they are taking a CNC router to task on a number of ash trees – which will form the key building blocks for their V&A structure. I’ll try and get some images up in my next blog post, The Geopark is a fantastic public park project (inc. skate park) using recycled / discarded equipment / containers from the local oil industry. Reinhard and Dag Strass (the main project architect on ‘Ratatosk’) gave us a great little tour of the site:

…and here, Reinhard shows us a former submersible structure which is going to become a cafe space for the Geopark:

Reinhard couldn’t join us later (he and Siv Helene are flying out to Shanghai tomorrow for the opening of the Expo pavilion that they have built for Norway) but Dag was kind enough to give a tour of some of the other projects that they have built nearby – including a mountain lodge, and a very surreal set of treehouses – ‘Basecamp’ – suspended amongst the branches of some rather tall trees.

It was a long walk up that mountain – but definitely worth it – for the Helen & Hard structures, and also for the memorable Middle Earth-like foggy atmosphere! It was like walking into the middle of a Japanese brush painting….quite amazing.

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