Sverre Fehn - Norway

The Norwegian architect Sverre Fehn (14. 08. 1924 - 23. 02. 2009) received his architectural education shortly after Wordl War II in Oslo, at a time when modernist revolution was at its highest. Arne Korsmo, the most famous Norwegian modernist, was his mentor and had a crucial influence on him. Sverre Fehn never considered himself to be a modernist, stating: 'I have never thought of myself as modern, but I did absorb the anti-monumental and the pictorial world of Le Corbusier, as well as the functionalism of the small villages of North Africa. You might say I came of age in the shadow of modernism'.

Within a short time after graduation Sverre Fehn became the leading Norwegian architect of his generation. His work was strongly influenced by the vernacular architecture he discovered during travels in Marocco in 1952 - 1953, and the modernism which he encountered when he worked for two years in the studio of Jean Prouvé, where he also met Le Corbusier. Sverre Fehn opened his own office in 1954, when he returned to Norway. He gained first international recognition at the age of only 34 years with his design for the Norwegian Pavilion at the 1958 Brussels World Exhibition, which gave an early notice of his enormous talents. Only a few time later, Sverre Fehn had the opportunity to design and realize another pavilion. The Nordic Pavilion at the Venice Biennale is like a confirmation of its predecessor and is considered to be one of the highlights in his career, together with the Hedmark Museum in Hamar.

Together with Jørn Utzon and along with other Norwegian architects of his generation, (Christian Norberg-Schulz, Geir Grung, Hakon Mjelva and Are Vesterlid) Sverre Fehn formed the so called PAGON (Progressive Architects Group Oslo Norway) organization. PAGON was the Norwegian branch of the CIAM and had a profound influence, creating an architecture rooted in the modern movement, but expressing their own region in terms of materials and architectural language.

The works by Sverre Fehn are of a poetic quality and are characterized by a fascinating combination of a modern architectural language and Scandinavian tradition.
Even if Sverre Fehn was influenced by some of the greatest architects of the 20th century, his oeuvre is of special individuality and originality. Never fitting easily into the canon of modern architecture, Sverre Fehn always new how to break with the rules of modernism. Famous for his extraordinary sensitivity for nature,  Sverre Fehn always took great care for the relationshep between the built and the natural environment in all his designs. He himslef stated, that he never regarded nature in a romantic way and that an architect must create a tension between nature and his intervention. During his long career, Sverre Fehn continuously and patiently pursued his own interpretation of modernism, avoiding fashions and always striving for improvements. Another important characteristic of Sverre Fehns architecture, is his enthralling use of materials. The carefully designed buildings are proof of his creativity and virtuosity, making him one of the most important recent architects of the world.

During his career, Sverre Fehn has proven that he is an architect for various tasks and scales, successfully working in furniture design, exhibitions and architectures of different dimensions. Some of the most remarkable museums in the world are designed by the Norwegian architect. Sverre Fehn was active as an architectural teacher. From 1971 to 1995 he taught in Oslo's School of Architecture as a professor, and from 1986 to 1989 he was the principal there. Further he lectured extensively at european universities and he also taught at the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills (Michigan).

Sverre Fehn received great honor and wide international recognition, when he was awarded the Pritzer Architecture Prize and the Heinrich Tessenow Gold Medal within the same year (1997). When he won the prestigious Pritzker Prize, most of his desings were still unrealized, and only 11 of his buildings were completed.

1952 - 1955 - Økern Aldersjem - Oslo
1958 - 1965 - Nordic Pavilion - Venice
1959 - 1963 - Villa Schreiner - Oslo
1961 - 1965 - Villa A. Bødtker - Oslo
1962 - 1964 - Villa Skagestad - Oslo
1962 - 1972 - Bøler Community Centre (Library) - Oslo
1967 - 1980 - Hedmark Museum - Hamar
1969 - 1975 - Skådalen School - Oslo
1989 - 1991 - Norsk Bremuseum (Norwegian Glacier Museum) Fjærland
1996 - 2000 - Ivar Aasen Centre - Ørsta
2001 - 2005 - Hedmark Museum Protective Structure, Hamar
2003 - 2008 - National Museum of Architecture - Oslo