Art in architecture and design

Integrating art in our projects

At Snøhetta, we have a long history of collaborating with the arts and artists from the earliest conceptual phases. Artists bring a unique and fresh perspective to our work. We find these cross-collaborations push both architecture and art towards new expressions and content, creating new dimensions of collective and individual perception, either in contrast to or in harmony with design.

This also holds true for art infused by our design work. Working with Olafur Eliasson on the Serpentine Gallery Pavilion in 2007 allowed the architect to lean toward art, whereas the artist leaned towards architecture. The collaboration ended up being neither nor, but rather an in-between object blending both positions from beyond our own horizons. 

At the new Library of Alexandria in Egypt, the artists Jorunn Sannes and Kristian Blystad created a vast hand-engraved artwork on the stone walls that embrace the building, with signs and symbols from around 150 languages. The integrated art piece communicates the content of the building but also emphasizes the façade as an autonomous work of art.

Similarly, artist José Parlá's work on the exterior of the new Writer's Library in Queens, New York, with his long arching calligraphic lines, defines the library and simultaneously discusses the idea of language, communication, and the urban life the library represents. 

The National Opera and Ballet in Oslo is also one of Norway's largest public art collections, featuring eight art projects and seventeen artists. Integrated art defines much of the design. The walkable marble roof by artists Kalle Grude, Jorunn Sannes and Kristian Blystad covers 19 000 square meters and is made up  of 33 000 pieces that play with shadows and change character depending on light and seasons. 

Norwegian National Opera and Ballet
The marble roof is designed by the artists Kristian Blystad, Kalle Grude and Jorunn Sannes.

Photo: Jens Sølvberg

Inside, the woven textile stage curtain by visual artist Pae White for the main theatre and light installations by Olafur Eliasson in the foyer are prominent features. In contrast, an independent sculpture floats in the harbor outside.

Visual artist Pae White's woven textile curtain for the main theatre.

The perforated cladding in the lobby for the bathrooms was designed by the artist Olafur Eliasson.