Anchoring meaning: topographical impulses in the work of Sverre Fefn

Hay, Chris (2012) Anchoring meaning: topographical impulses in the work of Sverre Fefn. In: Theoretical Currents II: Architecture and its Geographical Horizons, 4-5 April 2012, University of Lincoln.

Anchoring meaning typographic impulses in the work of Sverre Fehn
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In A Pattern of Thoughts the Norwegian architect Sverre Fehn states that “the Scandinavian landscape has determined much of my production and that the land is the architect of my buildings” (Fefn cited by Fjeld 2009, p.108). This paper explores this statement and suggests that in contrast to much modernist building projects where as Vittorio Gregotti notes “the worst enemy of modern architecture is the idea of space considered in terms of its economic and technical exigencies indifferent to the idea of site” (Gregotti cited by Frampton 1995,p. 8). Fehn’s work is developed around a dialogue with its surroundings where the establishment of level ground as the primary marker of habitation and its subsequent relationship to both earth and horizon is a constantly and recurring theme. Fehn’s approach is, to borrow David Leatherbarrow’s term, topographical in character. His buildings are as much earthworks as they are frameworks and they are, as the land artist Robert Smithson wrote of his Spiral Jetty realized in Utah in 1970 “embedded in the landscape rather being objects on the landscape” (Flam 1972, p. 298).
The character of this topographic impetus in Fehn’s work, its precise articulation and expression varies from project to project and this can be revealed by examining two particular projects. These are the Norwegian Glacier Museum of 1989- 91 and the Ivar Assen Centre of 1996-2000. These two projects have very similar programmes, are set in equally spectacular nature environments and both share compositional and material strategies. and yet the manner in which Fefn articulates each particular spatial setting or situation reveals his capacity to propose an architecture which is contingent on what surrounds it, where to borrow David Leatherbarrow’s words “ site- or more broadly, ambient landscape – is not what surrounds and supplements the building, but what enters into, continues through, emanates from, and enlivens it “ (Leatherbarrow 2004,p. 21)

Keywords:Architecture, bmjconvert
Subjects:K Architecture, Building and Planning > K100 Architecture
Divisions:College of Arts > School of Architecture & Design > School of Architecture & Design (Architecture)
ID Code:7815
Deposited On:04 Mar 2013 18:19

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