Plattform: A Spotlight on Modernist Residential Architecture in Norway
Modernist architecture came about in the early 20th century as a response to large-scale changes in technology, construction, and society; particularly through the use of glass, steel, and reinforced concrete. The style was typically associated with the function of buildings from an analytical viewpoint, rational use of materials, the elimination of ornamentation, and openness to structural innovation.
Paul Tunge is a Norwegian writer, director, and cinematographer of Arthouse Films who has been involved in film production since the early 2000s. Having written, directed, shot, and produced four independent films, alongside 3 documentaries, each of his projects has been featured during major film festivals across all continents, in galleries, and various national cinemas and cinematheques.
Tunge had produced two short documentaries pertaining to modernist architecture, AD Astra, featuring a focus on churches, and Bauta, employing a spotlight on brutalist corporate buildings, both of which premiered on the online cultural site Nowness. Having created a spotlight on modernist architecture through the lens of these two projects, Tunge then followed up with Plattform, a meditative short film that explores modernist architecture within the housing in Norway, spanning from the late fifties to the early nineties.
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Featuring projects by the likes of Sverre Fehn, Geir Grung, and Erling Viksjø, the film aims to build an avenue to make private architecture public, to experience a building, and to feel the room, light, material, and placement of its corresponding spaces.
In this article, we will provide a spotlight on some of the dwellings that were featured in the short film, and how each of these architects contributed to the wave of significance for the era of residential modernist architecture.
Erling Viksjø of Villa Ystgaard (1957) contributed to the design of monumental buildings in Norway to an extremely notable extent. Seeking modern forms of expression, Viksjø endeavored to create a unique form of interaction between architecture and art, and in many of his buildings, successfully established an intimate connection between the two art forms, resulting in a cohesive architectural sculpture.
Villa Furuland (1998) designed by Lundhagem is built on a site covered by moderately dense vegetation. The desire to keep all the trees central to the placement of the two L-shaped houses, separated by a long, thick wall arranged to form a sheltered atrium. The formal language of the building contrasts with its surrounding homes, and it is the dwelling’s dialogue with the existing trees that ties it to the place.
Villa Bjart Mohr (1971) was designed by Bjart Mohr as a permanent residence for himself and his family in the early 1970s. The project is well-thought-out and detailed, and the result is a succession of comfortable and well-lit spaces. The division of the home’s different areas through the use of sliding doors offers the possibility of enclosing separate regions, as well as creating an open complex sequence of spaces. The garden subsequently also stands as a place of interest, employing Japanese inspiration, seeking contemplation and peace with its trellis and paved path, a stark contrast against clear open lawns.
Built for a musician in 1990, Sverre Fehn’s Villa Busk resembles a romantic fortress, standing on the edge of a precipitous cliff; it has the appearance of a house made to accommodate a poetic sensibility. Akin to many of his projects, the house has a strong relationship with its surroundings, seamlessly blending modernity with regionalism. As a result of these qualities, a sense of timelessness is brought about to the residence.
Jensen & Skodvin’s Villa Wormdal Haug (1991) is situated on a site between the outer and central areas of the city. The area possessed rare qualities for a city plot: large deciduous trees, ash, maple, and oak, combined with a local topography providing pastoral views in three directions. The design of the house is an effort to emphasize the segregated character of the place, turning its back on what is urban, whilst the rooms are given selective and exclusive views out towards the trees and what for a town is an unexpected, almost pastoral landscape.
Lundhagem’s Villa Ullern (1993) sits perched on a site originally used as a communal sunbathing garden for the local community, alongside the remains of several beautiful elements including a 30-meter long staircase leading toward the top of the hill, a retaining wall, a pond, and two magnificent poplar trees. The house embodies a sense of lightness that is both playful and poetic, and the use of color and texture in the interior is consistently matched to the exterior of the house, almost erasing the transition from the inside out. Infused with a feeling of lightness and the blurring of the outer to the inner means that nature is brought into all of the home’s spaces.
Paul Tunge believes that film, society, and media are connected to information and learning, however, an attempt must be made to protect and shine a light on important pieces, providing a sense of presence and experience to architecture that simply isn’t found within its theory.