Norwegian Wood

 Date:03/03/2005 - 23/03/2005
 Type:Culture, Architecture
 Location:England, London

The work of Wenche Selmer, one of the few women architects who gained a position among Norwegian architects in the 20th century, is explored in this exhibition by Elisabeth Tostrup, the Oslo School of Architecture, and Allkopi at The Bartlett in London

30/10/2006 :: Wenche Selmer's own house, designed in collaboration with her husband Jens Selmer, was awarded the Sundt Prize for outstanding architecture in 1964-65. She was awarded the Timber Award for her timber architecture in 1969, also together with Jens Selmer. Wenche Selmer was also very influential through her work as associate professor at the School of Architecture in Oslo, where the respect for her architecture grew alongside her authority as a teacher for several hundred young architects.

It is primarily smaller houses - dwellings, housing areas and holiday homes - built in timber, which defines Wenche Selmer's field of work. Her production comprises about 100 commissions. 36 of these are single-family homes, mostly in Oslo, and 37 are holiday homes, many on the south coast of Norway around Lillesand, but also some in the mountains. Her work spans a period of 44 years, and naturally also reflects different periods in Norwegian architecture. Nonetheless there is a clear continuity in her production, which is grounded on her perception of what it is to be an architect.

Wenche Selmer stated several times that there were two conditions in particular that interested her. One is the relation to the surroundings; the other is the people and how they use their houses.  When the word ”consideration” comes naturally in a description of Wenches Selmer’s architecture, it is because it defines a synthesis of both artistic, technical and financial aspects which are enhanced by a special insight into and understanding of the social and environmental sides of architecture. You could say that ”environmental” includes a particular degree of the ”social”, as it includes respect for fellow human beings and common human efforts. 

Wood is the dominating material in the architecture of Wenche Selmer, as it is the mainstay of Norwegian building traditions. Her contribution has been to rework, explore and renew the possibilities which that material affords to reach the optimal spatial syntheses as a frame around a modern way of life. The subtle interplay between building and surroundings in her architecture is striking, whether the buildings are located on south coast outcrops, in wooded terrain or inland suburbs. In every case, the architectonic solutions are adapted to the particular situation, where spatial design, construction and detailing have been executed with a quiet invention which gives durable and pleasant houses.

The exhibition has been made by Elisabeth Tostrup, the Oslo School of Architecture, and Allkopi, spring 2002.

The photographs are by Frode Larsen, Jim Bengston, Espen Grønli, Carl-Viggo Hølmebakk and Jens Selmer.

Norwegian Wood - Architect Wenche Selmer's way

3 - 23 March

The Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL
Wates House
22 Gordon Street

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Norwegian Architect Wenche Selmer

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