A Constructed Biography

architect Steven Holl
project Knut Hamsun Centre, Hamarøy, Norway
written by Juhani Pallasmaa


The Knut Hamsun Centre is located well above the Arctic Circle in Presteid, Hamarøy village, near the Lofoten Islands, in the stunningly beautiful landscapes of the Norwegian writer’s life. These are also the settings of many of his literary stories. Knut Hamsun (1859–1952) continues to be a controversial figure in Norwegian cultural history even today; his reputation declined catastrophically in the public’s esteem from a Nobel Prize-winning author (1920) towards the disgrace of his later age, after he had lapsed into Nazi sympathies.


Steven Holl’s design for the Centre tactfully expresses the troubled nature of the writer through a subtle architectural language that can even be interpreted as an architectural portrait.