Pondering upon the story of the becoming of Snøhetta, indubitably, one thing is found common in the stories of our mentors: Consciousness. What was the focal point of their focus? How did they plan to achieve it? Only one answer — They were most present in the ‘Now’. All they planned to do was give their best of energy, imagination, and creativity into the one project they landed.
The simplicity of our intentions and efforts pours out the best we have within ourselves. Nothing we believe is too complicated to be understood; the better we read it, the simpler we can explain or present it.
… And so is what Snøhetta’s maverick architects did. They took the opportunity at hand, deciphered the code to its element, and delivered content that a person could understand who was trying to dramatize history instead of valuing it.
“You go to the moon, and then you wonder if you’ll be allowed to go back again,” said Dykers after the realization of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina Project in Alexandria, Egypt. Bibliotheca Alexandrina turned out to be the first project waving a bright light on Snøhetta’s name. Today, Snøhetta sits as one of the most reputed architectural firms in the design world map, coming out of a room atop a beer bar in the Dovre region.
The Knubben Harbor Bath
Amongst many renowned projects accomplished by Snøhetta, the upcoming star project is Knubben Harbor Project in Arendal, Norway.
Through the Pages of History
Singing of its glory in 1930, the Knubben Harbor Bath was initially working under Arendal Swimming Club, designed by Ketil Ugland. It held space for swimming lessons, diving competitions, and aquatic activities until it shut down in 1947. In the 1960s, intending to be revived as a jazz club, it eventually lost its name to time as it left the shoreline. However, praised as an elegant space with a modernist spirit, the Norwegian Armed Forces demolished the diving platform in the 1980s.
Revival of the Knubben Harbor Bath
Snøhetta was commissioned in 2018 to breathe life into the sleeping harbor that lived many lives and shared many laughs in its passing ages. Expected to speak of its past while emphasizing and conserving the elements to be memorialized, Snøhetta took on the challenge to build and redesign an urban destination for national and international interest. Instead of restoring the place to its originality, they understood that actions needed consideration according to time, audience, identity, and activities.
Walk-Through the Stages of Design
Taking its form from the topographical image of the site, the new Knubben swims along the Norwegian bay, imitating its curves and textures. The accentuating concave and convex walls recreate a stone block during the Last Glacial Period as it creates cavities in the landscape. As per Snøhetta’s philosophy of respecting the context and landscape, you may clearly see the value and ideology behind the concept of this design.
The Knubben plans to function as a multi-use place for social meeting purposes. The scenery sets a sensational backdrop to the layer of activities dressing up the site. The facility will enliven the space around the clock throughout the year with an open-air stage, a sculptural amphitheater, restaurants, and more indoor spaces for concerts and meetings. With heightened connection with its natural surroundings, Knubben will prove to be a meditative urban platform floating in the sea on a hot summer evening to a refreshing one offering an icy bath on a cold winter’s day. Numerous cultural events with the zeal of tastes of the region will not only add to the richness of the site but the beauty of the people coming together in one place as well.
Material & Sustainability
Snøhetta is known for its eye for integrating landscape features in its projects. Material identity thus becomes a sensitive matter in designing a space, especially when the roots dig deep in history. One cannot disregard material ingenuity, and where ingenuity is concerned, sustainability becomes a question as well.
The new Knubben Harbor Bath structure will be cast in contoured layers of the geographical location resting on steel core piles. Constructed from concrete, it mimics a monolithic appeal complimenting and withstanding the due coastal conditions.
Sustainability is not compromised as Snøhetta features technologies that cause low greenhouse-gas emissions. As Næss quotes that the challenge was to be sensitive to the selection of materials since the site lies in a frangible marine environment bound to changes due to raw weather. The end goal was to imbue technologies that help in material recycling and not only that of glass. The firm took a step forward to experiment with material technologies to create concrete with biochar such that it traps carbon emissions. Looking for a diversity of options, structurally or aesthetically, compositions achieved were carbon-neutral or carbon-negative.
In the coming year 2023-2024, the Knubben Harbor Bath project is said to be completed and inaugurated offering a culturally fluid space for recreational activities, taste, thematic experiences, and marine biology and learning.
- Agdeposten newspaper, n.d. [image] Available at: <https://www.arch2o.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/Arch2O-snohetta-to-reconstruct-a-modernized-version-of-knubben-harbor-bath-in-norway-3.jpg> [Accessed 7 January 2022].
- Aouf, R., 2021. Snøhetta reimagines long-closed 1930s Norwegian harbour bath Knubben. [online] Dezeen. Available at: <https://www.dezeen.com/2021/08/16/snohetta-reimagines-norwegian-harbour-bath-knubben-architecture/> [Accessed 7 January 2022].
- Danielsen, E., n.d. [image] Available at: <https://p1-tt.byteimg.com/origin/pgc-image/c4c86f03fb4749fe85ddc1d4b5c16271.jpg> [Accessed 7 January 2022].
- Snohetta.com. n.d. Knubben. [online] Available at: <https://snohetta.com/projects/566-knubben> [Accessed 7 January 2022].
- Volner, I., 2016. How Maverick Architects Snøhetta Became One of the World’s Most Sought-after Firms. [online] WSJ. Available at: <https://www.wsj.com/articles/how-maverick-architects-snhetta-became-one-of-the-worlds-most-sought-after-firms-1478135401> [Accessed 7 January 2022].