Architecture

We are architects. We use design and architecture as a positive force in the world.

For 35 years, architecture has been the core of Snøhetta, often in combination with other disciplines. Our projects range from beehives to opera houses and large masterplans, with concepts born out of careful consideration of the context and landscape in which they are situated.

Our projects range from beehives to opera houses and large masterplans, with concepts born out of careful consideration of the context and landscape in which they are situated.

Architecture dates back to the very start of Snøhetta, when we set up a small architecture and landscape collective in Oslo. In 1989, we won our first significant commission to revive the ancient library of Bibliotheca Alexandrina in Egypt. Integrating landscape and architecture, and also art and interior, this project became defining to Snøhetta’s transdisciplinary approach, where the disciplines work holistically to constitute a greater sum than its individual parts.

Architecture as a positive force

From the beginning, the Brundtland Commission's UN report on sustainability, Our Common Future, published in 1987, became an inspiration for building a positive future. Since then, we continue to promote design and architecture as a positive force in the world. Today, we also connect habitats for humans and non-humans alike with other considerations of sustainable materials, positive energy and water resource management, carbon and emissions control, and waste control. Positive workplace guidelines for healthy labor practice in construction and throughout the design process further empower this.

All scales

Bibliotheca Alexandrina was followed by commissions for the Norwegian National Opera and Ballet in Oslo and the National September 11 Memorial Museum Pavilion at the World Trade Center in New York City. Since those early projects, many works have been realized worldwide, and Snøhetta has grown into a global transdisciplinary practice.

Although these larger projects are often a focus of attention, we continue to work within a range of scales, from something as small as a beehive to large-scale mixed-use buildings and urban master planning.

Similarly, we work within a wide variety of typologies but especially publicly available spaces such as education and research facilities, libraries, museums, cultural institutions, galleries, performance spaces, and places for recreation in connection with nature.

Responsible design

Recognizing that buildings and their construction operations significantly contribute to negative climate effects, we approach each project with a focus on building responsibly while also creating places for people, plants, and animals to co-exist while reducing negative environmental impact.

Further commitments to social sensitivity are central to our work. Shaping the built environment and designing for humanistic sensitivity is embedded in our thinking. Every project is a unique expression of the ethos of its users and location in relation to climate and diverse social constructs.

We place a great deal of emphasis on understanding the habitat of a place, which includes all its living creatures in biotic and abiotic relationships.

For each project, we investigate the specific site to best support the natural habitats and how soil, vegetation, flora and fauna can play a positive role in our development

For several decades, we have researched and experimented with energy-positive structures that are net carbon neutral over their lifecycles while serving as pleasant spaces for their occupants. A key focus area for us has been to design buildings that pay back their CO2 footprint at the latest over their lifetime by returning clean energy to society, offsetting the fossil energy that otherwise exists in the energy mix. We have proven that these structures can be built with existing technology. We now aim to scale up this strategy into the rest of our portfolio and, ultimately, the rest of the construction industry.