Sverre Fehn, detail of the Nordic Pavilion, Giardini della Biennale, Venice Courtesy Ferruzzi

Lecture : 5 June 2009

'Sverre Fehn: A Homage' A discussion and celebration of Sverre Fehn

This event is a discussion and celebration of Sverre Fehn (1924-2009), the Norwegian architect who won the prestigious Pritzker Architecture Prize in 1997 and who is known for his Nordic Pavilion at the Giardini in Venice. The pavilion, which contains three trees that shoot up through the roof, illustrates Fehn's view that 'building is a brutal confrontation of culture on nature, and in that confrontation you can find balance and beauty'. As he also said, 'When I build on a site in nature that is totally unspoiled, it is a fight, an attack by our culture on nature. In this confrontation, I strive to make a building that will make people more aware of the beauty of the setting, and when looking at the building in the setting, a hope for a new consciousness to see the beauty there, as well.'

Born in Oslo in 1924, Fehn studied in Paris with Jean Prouvé and Le Corbusier in the early 1950s. Upon his return to Norway, he studied with Arne Korsmo and in 1958 co-founded the Progressive Architects' Group, Oslo, Norway (PAGON) in an attempt to promote modern architecture in the country. He was the author of the Norwegian Pavilion at the 1958 Brussels World Exhibition, Belgium, the Nordic Pavilion in Venice, and the Hedmark Cathedral Museum in Hamar, Norway, buildings that combine modern architectural language with Scandinavian forms and materials. Fehn taught at the School of Architecture in Oslo from 1971 to 1995, and in 1997 he was awarded the Pritzker Prize and the Heinrich Tessenow Gold Medal. In his final years he designed the Oslo headquarters of the Gyldendal publishing house, which was completed in 2007, and the Norwegian Museum of Architecture, which opened in March 2008 with a retrospective exhibition of Fehn's work.

This event will start with an introduction to Fehn's work by Per Olaf Fjeld, the author of an upcoming monograph on the architect's work, followed by a discussion with the artist Dan Graham, the architect Momoyo Kaijima (Atelier Bow-Wow, Tokyo), the curator Hans Ulrich Obrist, the architect Gro Bonesmo (Space Group, Oslo) and the architecture theoristMarco De Michelis.

Venue and Directions

The Fondazione Giorgio Cini is a non-profit cultural institution located on the Island of San Giorgio Maggiore, Venice, across the Canal from St Mark's square and Palazzo Ducale. To reach the Fondazione Giorgio Cini, please take vaporetto line no.2 to the San Giorgio stop. Vaporetto no.2 leaves from San Zaccaria (trip lasting about 3 minutes), Ferrovia (45 min), Roma (40 min) and Tronchetto (35 min).

This event has been organised by the Office for Contemporary Art Norway, Oslo in association with Public Art Norway (KORO).