Role of villa in Norwegian architecture

Villa Architecture in Norway

This article investigates how villas affect the architecture, Nordic villa life and History, Contemporary Villas, Hytter, architect Sverre Fehn, and some cases in Norwegian Villas.

Authors: Mahshid Motamed + Amirabbas Abutalebi 
Subject area: Architecture

Photos Owner: Nasjonalmuseet, The Architecture Collections | جدول ویلاها در نروژ



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Role of Villa in Contemporary Architecture

Dwellings always have provided shelter, and by their given configuration always effect the personal activities, feelings and social relations of those who live in them. But to serve as a “Dream house”, and specifically as an instrument of bourgeois self-fulfillment, is to perform a cultural function confined (until recently) largely to Western society. In the early 18th century production of a new architectural type, the compact bourgeois villa and a new settlement pattern fabricated as we know it (Archer, 2005). With the development of construction technologies, the urban mass became denser; so, the tendency to have a weekend house grown up soon. From the first stirrings of modernity in the early 20th century to the present, the Villa has served as a testbed of design experimentation. Modernism, the architectural direction that has characterized most of this century, had as its stated project to develop new forms of housing.


Villa considered as where architects have sought to create new forms and to offer new domestic lifestyles. Alvar Aalto, Rudolph Schindler, Frank Lloyd Wright, Frank Gehry, Eileen Gray, Charles and Ray Eames, Charles Gwathmey, Carlo Scarpa, Herzog & de Meuron, etc.; most great architects of the past hundred years have begun or catalyzed their careers with an iconic Villa.


Since it was first fixed by the patricians of ancient Rome, the basic program of the villa has remained unchanged for more than two thousand years. The villa is therefore unique as a paradigm; other architectural types- the palace, the place of worship, the factory- have changed in form and purpose as the role of the ruler, the character of the liturgy, the nature of manufacture has changed, frequently and often radically. The villa has remained substantially the same, because it fulfills a need that never alters. Because it is not material but psychological and ideological, this need is not subject to the influences of evolving societies and technologies. The villa accommodates a fantasy impervious to reality (Ackerman, 1986).


Because literature is a primary form expressing myths, the ideology of the villa in every epoch is richly reinforced by poetry and prose (Spurr, 2012). Indeed, literary works have not merely reflected the villa culture of their time; they have promoted villa concepts developed in later times. Major revivals of the villa from that of the 15th century in Italy to Le Corbusier have been explicitly justified by reference to the Roman writers of the late Republic and early Empire-Cato, Varro, Virgil, Horace, Pliny the Younger, Vitruvius, and others. These and other prolific periods in villa history were also marked by a literature devoted to the design and improvement of villas and their gardens an equally rich source for the interpretation of the myth.


The content of villa ideology is rooted in the contrast of country and city, the virtues and delights of the one being presented as the antitheses of the vices and excesses of the other. The paradigm of the villa poses a cultural paradox. It is supremely conservative socially, being a luxury commodity available only to persons of privilege and power, and the ideology that sustains the type has stayed unchanged over millennia. Yet the mythical nature of villa ideology liberates the type from concrete restraints of utility and productivity and makes it ideally suited to the creative aspirations of patron and architect. This creativity, however, is essentially limited to the sphere of taste. In this respect the design of villas parallels that of fashions in apparel, which has been similarly motivated by unchanging mythology since surplus wealth first offered its temptations  (Ackerman, 1986).


Nordic Villa Life

The success of the villa was due to one main factor: The ability to be both the answer and the solution to some of the period’s many challenges. However, the immediate success in Norway is closely linked to science, romanticism and the new fascination with nature. The villa could adapt its design and location to fit the idea of the outdoors as a space for recreation and health (Johansen, 2005). Now, nature was regarded as an important part of the Norwegian culture and identity. The suburban villas themselves were transformed into the same concept. Lightness, landscape design, and material are the natural factors that are held in common in various types of villas. Being largely constructed in the Swiss and later Minimalism, they personified a somewhat national continuity between the traditional and the modern.


As Christian Norberg-Schulz said, nature is in the center of Norwegian leisure’s: “North and South are familiar names. When we use these terms, we think not of cardinal directions but of domains with character and identity. We travel from the North to the South to experience warmth and sun and all that this entails; we travel from the South to the North to- well, this is precisely the question! What is that we find there? What is that distinguishing the Nordic World?” (Norberg-Schulz, 1997).



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Norway Government Impression

By means of its ongoing work on planning and building legislation and other legislation, the government determines the most important regulatory framework for changing the physical environment. In the energy sector, the processing of concessions is the tool that can provide such a regulatory framework. Increasing demands for the careful use of resources and high functionality in state-financed building and construction have led to a number of norms and standards for the design and execution of buildings and infrastructure. Such standards will develop further towards common ambitions and professional goals for architectural quality.


In August 2009, the Norwegian government launched Norway’s first unified architectural policy[1]. The Norwegian foundation for Design and Architecture in Norway has been assigned a key role in its implementation. The intention of an architectural policy is to promote the quality of the planning and construction of buildings. The concept of “quality” cannot be defined as one particular attitude to architecture and its surroundings, but rather as a mindset and an approach; in the words of the British architect Norman Foster: ”Quality is never about money, rather, it is an attitude of mind.”

[1] &


The policy document describes 3 main challenges facing the field of architecture:

·        The challenge posed by sustainability and climate change

·        The challenge posed by changes and transformations

·        The challenge posed by knowledge and innovation

The Norwegian Foundation for Design and Architecture in Norway acts as special advisor to the Ministry of Culture in the field of architecture and design (norskform, 2011).


An important institute in Norway architecture development is “The National Museum[1]” (Nasjonalmuseet for kunst, arkitektur og design), which holds, preserves, exhibits, and promotes knowledge about Norway's most extensive collections of art, architecture and design. The collection has up to 400,000 works. The museum offers a range of exhibitions showing Norwegian and international art, architecture and design, both at its venues in Oslo and elsewhere in Norway in conjunction with its nationwide touring program, and abroad. In 2015 the museum had 602,546 visitors. The new National Museum opens in Oslo in 2022. The new museum will be a place for new ideas, inspiration and significant cultural experiences (nasjonalmuseet, 2021)



Norwegian Villa Architecture

During the 19th and 20th centuries, the modern movement was a dominant thought in design. In 1919, Walter Gropius establishes the Bauhaus School in a Europe that is being rebuilt in the ruins of the First World War. And little Norway, which has always been a cultural fringe of the world, is there for once when it happens. The same year, Kirsten Sand graduates as the first female architect from NTH and warns that a new architecture is connected with profound societal changes. A new time requires a new built expression. And in 1922, just three years later, Lars Backer signs his first house, the villa in Heyerdahls vei 7c. At the same time, Le Corbusier is setting up his own practice. Modernity has come to Europe and European architecture (Brochmann, 2019).


Norwegian architects have traditionally searched for a way to build a relationship with the environment and developed their unique architectural expression. The concept of nature, or rather looking at the great outdoors as something particularly Norwegian and something healing, was a central part of creating a specific national culture towards the end of the 19th century. Even today, when being asked what they like the most about their city, the majority of the Oslo inhabitants are bound to reply «the forests» or «the fjord» (Johansen, 2005). Today's residential architecture, where there is talk of a "sensitive functionalism", relates to and problematizes aspects from several of modernism's style periods. Simplicity should be combined with intimacy, and a side glance at the place's building customs (Johnsen, 2002). In a country searching for a national identity, the fascination of the past was combined with a new awareness of science, health care, social problems, living conditions and international relations. Moral and modernity defined the period. All aspects came together in the introduction of a new type of dwelling: The villa (Johansen, 2005).


The introduction of the villa was closely connected to the construction of the Royal Palace in Christiania (now Oslo). Completed in 1848, the classical Palace introduced a completely new chapter in the architectural history of the country. Using modern building materials, prefabricated elements and importing craftsmen from abroad, the Danish-born architect, Hans Ditlev Franciscus Linstow (1787–1851), was very much orientated towards the newest principles of European architecture (Eldal, 2015).




The densification of today's residential areas problematizes the relationship between villas and landscapes. If a broad vista shouldn’t be possible, a large garden, or the view over many gardens, would give the feeling of being in nature. The villa and the garden were often planned as a whole (Johansen, 2005). Proximity to nature, material awareness and creating "places" seem to be overriding goals. These aspects are based on ideas from Arts and Crafts architecture and national romanticism. The connection to functionalism emerges in both the volume treatment of the villa itself and in the minimalist interiors with few objects that all have a simple aesthetic design.


Villas in Norway, started to be built in the Classical tradition style. Georg Andreas Bull designed most of the early villas in Norway (built from 1858 until 1862), in a variety of styles, ranging from medieval to classicist and exotic (Berg, 1994):

·        Three Villas Together in 1858,

·        Four Villas in Homansbyen in 1860,

·        Villa with studio for a Photographer in 1862,

·        Two Villas in Homansbyen in 1863,

·        Villa for Thomas Heftye in 1865,

·        Three Villas in Drammen in 1866,

·        Villa in Uranienborgeveien in 1867,

·        Ole Bulls Villa in Valestrand 1864,

·        Villa in Homansbyen in 1869.

From around 1840, architects started to design wooden buildings in a new style, the so-called Swiss chalet style. The style and its name originated in Germany, where Swiss popular culture was much admired by the romanticists. Elements such as projecting roofs, verandas and emphasis on gables were inspired from Alpine vernacular buildings. But the style may more correctly be termed Historicism in wood, a term introduced by author Jens Christian Eldal.


It is 150 years since the first Swiss-style houses were built in Norway, and the style gradually became very widespread. According to Linstow, the Swiss style was particularly suitable for a new Norwegian architecture, as he regarded it to be a refined version of the traditional, ancient wooden farm houses one could find in the countryside and the distant mountain valleys (Johansen, 2005). The design style of the Swiss style is consistent and distinctive, but the message the houses send to the surroundings is ambiguous and changeable. People have never been indifferent: Swiss houses have been pretty or ugly, real or fake, rationalist or romantic, cozy or eerie, Norwegian or Norwegian, and they have expressed progress or decay (Christensen, 1994 ).


Villa Lysøen is a good example, built in an island. The island was originally the site of a farm established around 1670. The island was bought by Ole Bull in 1872 who constructed the villa. Ole Bull drew the plans for the villa himself, under the supervision of renowned Norwegian architect Conrad Fredrik von der Lippe (1833–1901). Ole Bull had a large villa built on the island, inspired by numerous architectural styles, including the Swiss chalet style, Russian and Moorish architecture.


The buildings from 1892 are representatives of an Academic style, a mix of history and romance created directly on the architect's drawing board for a very exclusive and wealthy clientele. Villa Fridheim by Herman Major Backer in Krødsherad, stood out and was a rarity also within his own era. The facility is a continuation of the country house tradition from the 18th and 19th centuries. The location of the villa is influenced by the romance, where the buildings of the visitor suddenly appear, disappear and reappear. When driving down the Krøderen, Villa Fridheim is seen, almost like a Soria Moria castle (a famous Norwegian fairy tale made by Peter Christen Asbjørnsen and Jørgen Moe).


Villa Strandheim is a villa in Kite style in Holmen, Balestrand, Sogn. The villa was built as a summer house for the art painter Hans Dahl in 1893, and lies down on the beach.


The German influence brought into Norway by Neo-Classicism abated when Norway gained full independence in 1905. A new generation of Norwegian architects educated in Sweden took the lead in developing a distinctly national architecture, endeavoring to break the German historicist tradition.


Villa Arneborg, by architect Ferdinand Boberg, on Villagatan was built in 1907. The villa is built in wood and designed in Art Nouveau style. The entrance area is covered with shavings and has a terrace that is carried by four columns. The porch is crowned by a rounded front fireplace with a circular crown ornament that returns on the facade to the garden. According to Boberg and the writer of architecture, Ann Thorson Walton, the most negative aspect of the house is its truncated roof, which does not fit in with the rest of the style nor does Boberg's other works. The surrounding park was at the villa's establishment of 6000 square meters. Villa Tallbacken and Bystrom Villa were built in 1892 and 1905, after the architect Ferdinand Boberg’s drawings.


In the late 1920s, Modernism (or the International style) was taken up by Scandinavian architects. In Scandinavia this architectural trend was called Functionalism or colloquially in Sweden and Norway «funkis». Modernism found many adherents among young architects, especially in Norway. Its definite breakthrough was the Stockholm Exhibition in 1930, after which the majority of architects all over Scandinavia converted to the modern movement. Nowhere else did Modernism become so firmly established as the mainstream trend in architecture. It maintained its dominant position until about 1940.


Minimalism stands as a counter-reaction to the flood of objects that have entered villas in recent decades. Here it is an obvious parallel to the reaction of early modernism to the overloaded interiors of the 19th century. But in execution and choice of materials, it is not the cool German functionalism one relies on, but the Nordic continuation with wood, concrete and natural stone, which was developed from the late 1930s until the 60s (Johnsen, 2002).


Leif Grung was a versatile architect marked by distinctive artistic nerve. He was open to international ideas and was inspired by both the Bauhaus school and by Frank Lloyd Wright. He also committed himself to the self-builder movement, to modernizing onshore communications and expanding the road system surrounding Bergen.


In the end of the 1920s, he became a standard-bearer for the functionalist movement in Bergen. As such, he often met heavy resistance, even from his colleagues. Nevertheless, he was widely respected, enjoying high standing and popularity. Eventually he became the most productive architect in Bergen in the 1930s. Leif Grung made a house for his sister and her husband in 1935.  The house was baptized Villa Lau Eide.  A powerful example of Grung’s functionalistic ideas.


The Jugendstil (Modern style), a variant of Art Nouveau, had a certain influence on much of the new construction in Norway around the turn of the 20th century.


Described by Sigfried Giedion as "as good as Le Corbusier", Villa Ditlev-Simonsen 1937, Ove Bang established as one of the 1930s premier architects, and the internationally renowned building has remained as a major work in Norwegian modernism, or "functionalism" as the direction is often called in a Nordic context. A combination of international modernism and local tradition goes back to several of Bang's villas:

·        Villa Stousland I in 1932,

·        Villa Salvesen in 1935,

·        Villa Hansen in 1937,

·        Villa Stousland II in 1937,

·        Villa Steen in 1937.

In 1928, Arne Korsmo started his own practice with architect, Sverre Aasland (1899–1989). Several of his villas were designed and built in the years while he was in partnership with Sverre Aasland. Korsmo drew plans for 50 villas, several of which are regarded as masterpieces of Norwegian functionalism:

·        Villa Dammann in 1932,

·        Villa Korsmo in 1929,

·        Villa Riise in 1935,

·        Planetveien 12 Icon Villa.




Villa Stenersen, designed from 1937 to 1939 for the financier and art collector Rolf Stenersen, is one of Korsmo’s most well-known works.


In 1945, there was an overwhelming need for housing.

An architectural competition produced several designs for simple,

cost-effective, and rapidly assembled housing.

The resulting houses were Spartan and broke with building standards,

but met an immediate need for shelter,

which is called Reconstruction architecture in Norway.


In 1950, Korsmo was asked by Swiss art historian, Sigfried Giedion to lead the Norwegian group of Congrès International d'Architecture Moderne. The group, which was named PAGON (Progressive Architects Group Oslo, Norway), had the goal of implementing and promoting modern architecture.


Throughout modernism, and especially during functionalism, the middle-class villa in the suburbs has been a task that has produced masterpieces in Norwegian architectural history. Until the 1960s, it was not uncommon for directors, engineers, doctors, associate professors and lawyers to be open to engaging the best architects of Norway.


In the 1960s, the prefabricated house market exploded, and only a few of the houses were designed by architects. The prefabricated cabin companies still dominate the market for detached houses, and it is almost impossible to imagine that the picture could be changed. The postmodern villas from the last two decades have been characterized by a main form with clear historical models. In the style pluralism that exists, the skipper house and the Swiss house are popular role models in the prefabricated house industry.


When Are Vesterlid (1921-2013) was awarded the Norwegian Timber Prize in 1962, the jury particularly praised his Villa for the Engen family (1961) in Moelv, north of Oslo. The intimate spatiality of the Villa Engen did not lend itself to spectacular media coverage, however, and the Villa more or less disappeared from the Norwegian post-war canon. Nina Berre returns to the Villa Engen, investigates Vesterlid\'s sensitive handling of everyday life: this book gives an in-depth presentation of a forgotten treasure in 20th century Norwegian architecture. Are Vesterlids villa for Inger and Per Aass (Villa Aass) from 1961 is also marked as one of the highlights of Norwegian post-war architecture.


Geir Grung was the son of functionalist architect Leif Grung. He moved early from Bergen and got a base in Oslo after graduation. He asserted himself early, and received great inspiration from his master at the Norwegian School of Arts and Crafts, Arne Korsmo.


The concrete villas of functionalism and the wooden houses of the 1950s have been sources of inspiration for the architects. Among the detached houses of the 1990s, there are villas with long rectangular main volumes and game-clad exteriors that look new. When it comes to floor plans and organization, it is difficult to read clear patterns, until often each task is too special. Some features can still be highlighted. Many villas open with windows to the secluded garden and nature. When it comes to floor plans, it seems as if the program of functionalism is continued by connecting the living room, dining room and kitchen to one large room. If the villa is on two floors, the private sphere, as under functionalism, is added to the 2nd floor, which has bedrooms and wardrobes. You can still see the most exciting features in the middle-class villa. For the wealthy, the stately home has had its renaissance, with emphasis on a differentiated form of housing and a historical, often national, design language.


Together with Sverre Fehn, Håkon Mjelva and Christian Norberg-Schulz, Grung was involved in founding PAGON in 1950. This was a group of architects who did not think so much about the reconstruction after the war, but more of a recapture of the modernist idea world. The group wanted to pursue the functionalist ideals promoted by CIAM, an organization created in 1928 to help promote and realize the architectural ideals of modernism.


Geir Grung designed Villa Schjøtt in 1969. It is a distinctive private residence on a hill cam in the Tveiterås forest, in the residential area that was planned by the architect's father. The low-rise, two-storey villa is built in Grung's favorite materials: concrete, glass, redwood and teak. The plant has a free form with special solutions adapted to the landform. Magnificent in Villa Schjøtt is obvious in Helge Schjøtt’s words: “I will not leave this house. My soul is here. I'm used to hearing that it's a special house. I thrive here, damned good”.

Other impressive villas by Geir Grung:

·        Villa Åsjordet for civil engineer Per Ormann, Åsjordet, 1958/59

·        Villa for disponent (managing director) Gunnar Wethal, Tåsenveien 44, Oslo

·        Villa for Arve Kollenborg, Østenåslia, Bærum, c 1958-60

·        Own house/Villa Jongskollen, Jongskollen 27, Sandvika, 1963

·        Hans Villa, 1963

·        Villa Wahlstrøm

·        Villa for director Helge Schjøtt, Haakon Sætres vei 23, Tveiterås Forest, Bergen, 1968-69

·        Villa Nesøya, Villa for Finn C. Ferner, Nesøya, Asker, 1969-70

·        Villa Eivindvik, 1973



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Contemporary Villas

In the 20th century, Norwegian architecture has been characterized by its connection with Norwegian social policy on the one hand, and innovation on the other. Norwegian architects have been recognized for their work, both within Norway —where architecture has been considered an expression of social policy— and outside Norway, in several innovative projects.


The architecture of modern villas in Norway is very futuristic and based on the principles of sustainable and green design. The Norwegian leading architects’ effects should not be forgotten; they built up a structure in negotiation with nature and materials. Architecture in Norway surveys the contemporary condition of the country’s-built environment, showcasing a range of innovative projects and the diverse materials and unconventional forms employed in their construction.


The architectural designs of these projects have reflected not only the style currents of their time, but the societal debate over the purpose they were intended to serve. To a great extent, Norwegian architects have found the opportunity to develop their signature styles through their projects, and thereby also a Norwegian architectural dialect towards the Contemporary theme.



The term “holiday home” does not only include villas in the mountains or by the sea. It can also be year-round homes that are converted into holiday homes, cabin logs, apartments in apartment complexes, or other types of holiday homes. Based on these definitions, almost half of the households in Norway state that they own or dispose of a holiday home in Norway. In addition, owns approx. 70,000 Norwegian households live in holiday homes abroad, about a quarter in other Nordic countries, the rest in the South. For some groups, we can talk about housing one, two, three and even housing number four (Eckersberg, 2017). Far from representing an escape from post-industrial consumer society, the “Hytte” prompts evaluation, comparison or negation of normative domesticity for its occupants. Many priorities such as getting back-to-nature and living the simple life are achieved best, paradoxically, through their material manifestation. Routine and rupture, and discourse surrounding farming culture artefacts are central in evoking contrast (Garvey, 2008) .


There is a popular sketch in Norway architecture media, which refers to the popularity of holiday cabins; it is called hytte(r) in Norwegian, and superficially puzzling. Its logic suggests that leisure is to be enjoyed as the ‘other’ to contemporary lifestyles and a consumerist logic; that the cruder and more uncomfortable an experience the more authentic it is.


The cabin culture occupies one thread in a larger modern weave. A brief perusal of the 20th century shows how domestic doctrine eulogizing the modern has waxed and waned; in the inter-war period modernism was influential in professional quarters; since the 1960s fashions valorize the traditional in domestic arrangements (see Christensen 1992b). For much of the 20th century, post-war cabins were necessarily simple and it is only in recent decades that many holiday cottages have become as comfortable as the family home. After the post-war period the housing crisis abated, and greater disposable income shows in consumer spending – especially since the discovery of North Sea oil reserves in the 1960s. A little earlier in France, Lefebvre was raging against the consumer boom, the ‘Ideal Home phenomenon’, in which living spaces were transformed into conspicuous displays of modernity.  By contrast, he suggests every day is the less glamorous other to this phenomenon and is experienced in monotonous rows of planned housing in satellite towns. Recurrence and routine are featuring that Lefebvre emphasizes as characteristic of everyday life but the increasingly routinized nature of leisure again deflects our attention away from contemporary social experience.


The year-round home tends to become smaller and smaller, while there is a development towards larger and more comfortable holiday homes. The average size of newly built cabins is expected to exceed 100 sqm in 2008. In a ten-year perspective, the average area has increased by up to 40 percent. In the mid-1990s, the average area was 66 sqm, in 2006 it was 90 sqm, and now we are starting to approach 100 sqm. But the size varies between regions; in southern and eastern Norway, construction is on average the largest, while holiday homes in the northernmost counties have the lowest average area.


The basic module for the cabin system is a bed (80 x 210 cm). Based on this, the planning system is built up: Two modules provide a small bedroom - bed / bunk bed with passage; four modules alternatively provide a large bedroom, dining kitchen or fireplace. The modules are grouped on each side of an aisle, which also serves as an extension of the living zones. Above this modular net is a post-supported roof, and between the posts floor elements, wall elements and ceilings are mounted. Where you need smaller buildings, the aisle can be omitted, you need larger widths, the aisle is doubled; thus, one can operate with several possible widths in the cross section (Holm, 2016).




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Sverre Fehn

Norwegian poetic modernism has established a way of building in the nature, with simple geometric form, natural materials, clear detailing, natural colors and only carefully considered interventions on the site. The villa Schreiner in Oslo by Sverre Fehn (1924-2009) is the most important icon within this tradition. Every single building of his comparatively small oeuvre is a reflection on the relationships of humanity to nature or history, of the individual history (Unwin, 2014). His designs for Nordic pavilions through the exhibitions were reinterpreted elements of traditional Norwegian architecture when assessing a project site and the nature of its materials and light.


For Fehn, there is an inevitable confrontation between nature and man-made structures. When considering how to ground his project to earth on a delimited base, Fehn’s work seeks to negotiate this conflict between the building and its untouched surroundings.


Post Second World War Norway

saw the rise of talented female architects

like Wenche Selmer

recognized for her homes designed

in 1964 and works with her husband Jens Selmer,

1969 award winner for

Timber architecture.


In the 1960s, Sverre Fehn claimed that the freer lifestyle had to provide a new form of housing. Freedom in relation to water, air and light were important principles for organizing the room and the home's communication. His floor plans, with a central zone of kitchen and bathroom, enabled a free plan where the home could function as needed, partly with open and partly with closed rooms. "Furthermore, I wanted the house to act as a piece of furniture against nature," Fehn said of Villa Schreiner (Johnsen, 2002). Fehn's homes from the 1960s were thoroughly worked out with general ideas. Those who admire his detached houses today forget this and cling to the houses' proportions, construction, materials and aesthetic details.


The houses touch on Fehn’s preoccupation with horizon and the mythical nature of the north: “We can still experience the horizon encircling us as the outer limit of the world. Beyond the horizon lies the unknown, that which we do not see. In sparsely populated Norway, there is a strong feeling that adventure lies hidden behind the mountains. The farms are often distant from each other, and when you leave the farm, you disappear into the forest” (Grøvold, 1986). Fehn believes that the voyages of the Renaissance, and all subsequent endeavors have eroded the primitive and perhaps essential relationship of humankind to nature: for now, instead of being comfortingly enclosed in the vault of the sky with its limit at the horizon, we are alone in infinite space. Almost the whole of Fehn’s work is intended to give us some reassurance that the impressions and emotions of our ancestors (even the very earliest ones0 are still of great importance to our psyches, and that they can be re-evoked today (Unwin, 2014).


One of his favorite stories involved walking in the Norwegian landscape: “Within himself, every man is an architect. His first step towards architecture is his walk through nature. He cuts a path like writing on the surface of the earth. The crushing of grass and brushwood is an interference with nature, a simple definition of man’s culture. His path is a sign to follow” (Fehn, 31 May 1997) . Fehn was interested in tectonic expression, but above all he was a topographic architect. The first question he asked of any site was where to build.


Villa Busk was designed by Norwegian architect, Sverre Fehn (1924-2009) in 1989.  Known as one of Norway’s preeminent architects, Fehn won the Pritzker Prize in 1997.  While highly regarded by his contemporaries and many in his field, winning the Pritzker enabled a much larger audience the chance to admire his work. 

·        Nordic Villa in 1960,

·        Villa Skagestad in 1960,

·        Villa Schreiner in 1963,

·        Villa Norrkoping in 1964,

·        The Bodker House in 1967,

·        Villa Busk in 1990,

·        The Eco house in 1992,

·        Villa Holme in 1998.


Christian Norbert-Schulz: Own House, Oslo, Norway, 1955

Only a handful of individuals had such an influence on Western architectural theory during the so-called postmodern period in the 1970s as Christian Norberg-Schulz. Although he as a young architect had distinguished himself as a leading figure in the nascent modernist milieu in Norway, it was his texts, and not his drawings, that gave him an international reputation. As a result, his buildings have never received much academic attention. Nevertheless, there are important traces of thought in Norberg-Schulz's architectural works, especially when it comes to his thoughts on architecture as a mainly visual phenomenon. A real understanding of Norberg-Schulz 'contribution to the architectural theory of the 1970s is only possible if it is seen in relation to the design of this exceptional building (Otero-Pailos, 2006).


This house is one of three, built to the north-west of Oslo between 1953-55 by Norberg-Schulz and Arne Korsmo. Designed on a grid module of 122 cm, as elemental parts of a steel framed building that acts as a load bearing structure. This allowed for great flexibility of spatial planning resulting in the three houses being vastly different in final plan type.


Norberg-Schulz began drawing on his own house when he was 26 years old, just after he was hired as an assistant to Arne Korsmo (1900-1968). The house was part of a new private construction project to be built on Vettakollen, towards the border with Nordmarka and with a magnificent view of the Oslo Fjord. Only the first three of the ten projected houses were built; Norberg-Schulz 'and Korsmo's own homes, and a third unit, to the original landowner. The plot is not far from Korsmo's previous projects in Havna allé (1930-32), which had given him international recognition for innovations such as the use of concrete in the detached house market, and a bold functionalist aesthetic with flat roofs, joined platonic volumes and strong colors (Otero-Pailos, 2006).



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Wenche Selmer: Selmer House, Oslo, Norway, 1963

Post Second World War Norway saw the rise of talented female architects like Wenche Selmer recognized for her homes designed in 1964 and works with her husband Jens Selmer, 1969 award winner for Timber architecture. Mostly known for their public buildings, during a career covering 44 years designed more than 100 small weekend houses and cottages. The house was built in a period when high modernism dominated Norwegian architecture. It is located at the edge of the forest northwest of Oslo. The house is prominent examples of Norwegian architecture from this period. Selmer's house combines unconventional solutions with references to traditional wooden architecture (Tostrup, 2017).


This house on the outskirts of Oslo demonstrates that high quality architecture can be achieved at low costs. This 125 m2 home more than adequately accommodates a family of four and the parent's own studio space. The home is hidden from the road by a thick hedge, with windows looking into a private garden. Beside this the entrance is accessed via a small shallow pitched roofed terrace. The building form is staggered to define the difference between private and public spaces, an idea further reinforced by the roof form. The common living room appears to be obstacle free, with a large sliding door opening towards the garden. The kitchen work surface has also been designed to function as a clear visual device to separate internal spaces. Direct connection to the garden has aided the designers in creating a home that seems spacious and comfortable on a limited footprint area (Jens Salmer, 2006) .


Selmer's production was relatively modest, and primarily devoted to residential houses and cottages. But the thorough exploration of space-scarce floor plans with a good sense of space could have been transferred to cost-effective housing construction on a larger scale, because valuable experience springs from seemingly pragmatic and trivial circumstances. After Selmer opened her own "home practice" in 1954, a smooth and uncompromising production flowed from her drawing board, sometimes in collaboration with her husband Jens (Tostrup, 2017).




Edited By | Mahshid Motamed




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