From the archives: The history and theory of Norwegian Architecture 1945–1980

The course investigates hidden or overlooked aspects of Norwegian architecture in the post war period, during which the Norwegian welfare state was founded and consolidated. In particular, the course looks at the important contribution of female architects, trained both before and after the War, to Norway’s reconstruction as well as their subsequent work and projects. Throughout spring 2021, the students have collected and explored archival materials related to the hitherto under-researched histories of these female architects, aiming to reveal undiscovered or forgotten projects, ideas, and built-examples. In doing so, the students have added new layers of knowledge to this part of Norwegian historiography. 

The female architects studied span from the better-known District Architect for the North Kirsten Sand and the artistic and controversial Maja Melandsø to previously lesser-known—or unstudied—architects. These include the only female member of Stavanger’s post-war Modern architecture committee Sigrid Buch, community focused archaeologist/architect Anne Tinne Kielland Friis who worked in Iraq with writer Agatha Christie, social worker and anthropological photographer Jenny Kummeneje, early accessibility pioneer Siri Friis, and Ina Backer, Sigrid Berner, Kirsten Sjøgren-Erichssen, Turid Bernhoff Evensen, Margot Larsen, Else Stensrud, Inger Ullern, Kirsten Wleügel Knutssøn, and Lisa Gjessing, who—whilst working in the North in Post-war scarcity—was married in traditional Sámi dress.

Twenty-seven female architects, who all participated in the reconstruction work after WWII, were allocated to groups of students for investigation and research. Using primary and secondary sources, such as digitised archival material, private interviews with relatives or colleagues, newspapers, magazines, meeting minutes, letters, publications, and from a research day at the National Archives in Oslo, the students collected and collated material with which to bring new light to Norwegian post-war architectural history. The collated material has been edited into 10 individual biographical essays about the architects, written by the students. These texts construct the information into a narrative concerning that architects’ role in rebuilding Norway after the war, seen through one or more of the female architects taking part, and set within the wider historical context of Post-war Norway. By considering these architect’s lives and practices, another layer of understanding of the architecture in post war Norway is thus described and presented for the record. A final and wider outcome of the course will be the students’ ongoing work to revise their studies into new Wikipedia articles on some of the architects as well as additions and corrections to existing wiki-articles. In this way, students will have contributed to a wider the field of publicly accessible research, sharing and updating knowledge for future research fellows.

Students:  Ahmad Abdalnasir Khalid Al-Hiyali, Katarina Holløkken Hammer, Karin Hedberg, Jørgen Craig Lello, Eve Meyer-Hilfiger, Stina Meinicke, Ida Messel, Amalie Bauge Skevik, Kine Nordgård Ugelstad, Lydia Winninge

Teachers:  Nina Berre, Tom Davies

Online editor: Alena Rieger

FTH lectures: Mari Lending, Ingrid Dobloug Roede, Guttorm Ruud, Elisabeth Seip, Mara Trübenbach, Even Smith Wergeland

Guest lectures: Hanna Dencik Petersson, Bente Aass Solbakken, Despina Stratigakos

Critics: Bente Solbakken, Ingrid Dobloug Roede

Thanks also to Ingebjørg Hage, for sharing her research on female architects taking part of the reconstruction of Northern Norway