Friday, 9 January 2009

Helen & Hard

In the end of November I drove via Odda to Stavanger to do an interview with the architect firm Helen & Hard.

Helen & Hard is Siv Helen Stangeland, Reinhard Kropf and their 13 employees from around the world. The firm made its notice with their sort of weird hybrid projects that mix old and new among the old wooden houses in Stavanger. Sustainability and recycling is important issues for the architects, and they are focused on exploring the potential of different materials, like wood. The recently opened Preikestolen Mountain Log is an excellent example of this:

The mountain lodge, the winning design competition entry in 2004, accommodates 24 guest rooms, a café, a restaurant and a conference room. The lodge is situated at the path leading up to The Pulpit Rock, the sheer cliff overhanging Lyse Fjord. The lodge’s placement and massing is well fitted into the immediate environment. The main bearing construction consists of a rib-work of doubled up, massive wood elements. These elements are cut through to create the spacious public zones and form the rhythm of both the individual guest rooms and the intimate zones occurring along the facade.

(Here are some photos from my summer hike to Preikestolen/The Pulpit Rock.)

Based in Stavanger, the oil capital of Norway, the offshore industry inspired Helen & Hard to make the Geopark:

The Geopark is an experimental urban space which tests new ways of reusing resources from the petroleum sector. This industry’s geological and technological expertise, production methods and materials have been applied to create an activity park aimed particularly at children.

The Geopark is organised around an artificial landscape which recreates the topography of the Troll field in a scale of 1:500. Surfaces and installations are constructed out of recycled and reshaped elements from the petroleum sector, taken from abandoned fields, offshore bases, equipment suppliers and scrap heaps.

As a part of the official programme for celebrating the Stavanger region as a European Capital of Culture in 2008, the project has been developed by the Helen & Hard architectural practice and the Norwegian Petroleum Museum in cooperation with local youth groups.

Quotes from Helen & Hard's website. Take a look at the website to see images from these and other projects.

In 2010 Helen & Hard will be representing Norway at the World Expo in Shanghai.

Read my article about Helen & Hard here (in Norwegian). You can also read it on Arkitektnytt's homepage, here.


  1. what a great firm.
    i love the look of that lodge.

  2. More public buildings in wood, please. More of it in Oslo.



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