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Jun 11

This video shows an interview with Reinhard Kropf, an architect from Helen & Hard architectural practice. He is a graduate of the Technical University in Graz where he studied under Günter Domenig. He also studied under Sverre Fehn at the Oslo School of Architecture, which is where he met Siv Helene Stangeland. Stangeland and Kropf set up their practice, Helen & Hard, in Stavanger in 1995. This practice occupies a special position in Norwegian architecture, both in terms of their projects and of their location in the western oil-town of Stavanger. They are still a young practice, yet they have many built works to their name, including surprising conversions of old structures and innovative housing projects. Lately, they have won several competitions for public buildings. Reuse of existing elements from local industry and use of local human resources are common to many projects, as are inventive analysis and working methods. What emerges is quite different from the regional modernism that has dominated the Norwegian architectural scene for almost a century. During the interview, Helen and Hard founder speaks about the practice’s philosophy and working methods. This film includes the architects combing the Norwegian woods for a suitable ash tree for the project as Helen and Hard reconstruct an ancient ash tree harvested from the forests near Stavanger. Their concept is to recreate the childhood pleasure we all take from playing in dens in the forest.

Kropf describes that they are quite a diverse group of people. The practice consists of sixteen people of eight different nationalities. He explains that they do not have a particular style, but they have certain methods and values that they are occupied about. In his opinion, in a way all their projects are about sustainability and A lot of them are timber projects. The point of reference was their memories when they played in the trees in the forest and the kinds of mingled play places where you can do a lot of things and have a lot of fun.

Kropf describes their process of reconstruction of an ancient ash tree harvested from the forests near Stavanger. He says that the pavilion exists of ten ash trees, which are standing creating an elliptical space. They assemble the parts of the trees, weaving a roof on top with the branches and then the branches are not too high up so it is good for climbing. The intention is really to trigger a lot of joyful and playful interactions. The architect explains that this is a kind of stimulation of the five senses but also  of our fantasy and imagination which also has been their goal. He convinces that the form of the trees will help us to design the pavilion because every tree is different and gives different possibilities for the cutting and for the reassembling.

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