Snøhetta proposes A House to Die In near Munch's old home

Why are people objecting to the practice’s house for Bjarne Melgaard, to be built beside Edvard Munch’s estate?
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A House to Die In by Snøhetta and Bjarne Melgaard. Image courtesy of MIR and Snøhetta
A House to Die In by Snøhetta and Bjarne Melgaard. Image courtesy of MIR and Snøhetta

In 2011, the Norwegian contemporary artist Bjarne Melgaard approached his fellow countrymen, the arts patrons and property developers Olav and Frederik Selvaag, with plans to create a building that would double as both as his home, atelier and as a sculptural, stand-alone work.

Excited by the idea, the three of them engaged the world-famous architectural practice Snøhetta, to develop the curiously named A House to Die In, an angular black building clad in singed wood, supported on a set of lumpen, animal shaped plinths, each created by Snøhetta from drawings Melgaard supplied.

The building itself was not without controversy; its plans include such hedonistic interior furnishings as an inflatable "sex pillow" and a "drug room", according to The New York Times.

However, opposition groups have largely opposed Snøhetta and Melgaard’s building on the grounds of location. If it receives planning permission the House to Die will be built near Ekely, the country estate just outside Oslo where Edvard Munch spent much of his later life.

 

A House to Die In by Snøhetta and Bjarne Melgaard. Image courtesy of MIR and Snøhetta
A House to Die In by Snøhetta and Bjarne Melgaard. Image courtesy of MIR and Snøhetta

The actual land is owned by the Selvaag brothers, yet this hasn’t prevented arts and conservation groups from protesting; the NY Times even reports that a rare species of plant may have been sneakily introduced to the site to thwart the architects plans.

Norway’s highest heritage authority will decide whether to grant A House to Die In a permit. We certainly hope they will, not least because the building could make it into updated versions of so many of our architectural titles, such as our book on wooden buildings, Wood; our book on monochromatic architecture, Black; our book on remote, wilderness dwellings, Elemental Living, and even Living on Water, as the house is built on a modest reflecting pool. To see all these and more, go here. Meanwhile for more on Munch get this book; and for more on Bjarne Melgaard get Artists Who Make Books.


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