The Sámi National Theater Beaivváš and Sámi High School and Reindeer Husbandry School are two important cultural institutions of Sápmi – the cultural region traditionally inhabited by the Sámi people. To strengthen the two institutions’ cultural position, a shared cultural and educational facility is under construction in Kautokeino in Northern Norway.
In June 2021, the Norwegian Governmental Building Agency announced the architectural proposal Čoarvemátta by Snøhetta, the architectural firm 70°N arkitektur, the entrepreneur Econor, and the artist Joar Nango, as the winning entry for the new Sámi National Theater (Beaivváš Sámi Našunálateáhter) and Sámi High School and Reindeer Husbandry School (Sámi joatkkaskuvla ja boazodoalloskuvla). Located in the outskirts of central Kautokeino, the new facility will be dedicated to reindeer husbandry, traditional Sámi handicraft - duodji, culture, art, and storytelling. Assembling all functions under a generous roof, and creating robust and spacious rooms, the aim is to facilitate synergies between building and users, theater and school, and architecture and landscape.
The vision of the project is to interpret Sámi architecture with references from crafts, materials, and nature. The shape of the building is inspired by the innermost joint of the reindeer horn – a part of the horn that symbolizes different qualities and strengths but also represents two elements that unite. In fact, the name of the project Čoarvemátta comes from the Sámi words “čoarvi” and “mátta”, meaning “horn” and “root”. While the exterior resembles a cloth covering a wooden structure enclosing the space inside a lavvu, gathering the activities in the building under one surface.
The vestibule is central and a natural meeting point that will be well-suited for activities such as duodji, cooking, and theater plays. From the vestibule, the building stretches into three different directions – like the joint of the horn – adapting both visually and functionally to the landscape, while housing a wide range of facilities.
The ambition is a building blending into the surrounding landscape, avoiding sharp angles breaking with the landscape’s natural shapes.