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The Dialogic Line:The Temperament of the Work of Sverre Fehn

Part 1 Dissertation 1998
Alexander Franklin
University of Edinburgh Edinburgh | UK
The work of Sverre Fehn has been presented in many recent publications, yet it remains unexplained and hence enigmatic. This text looks at the work of the architect as a writer, educator, philosopher and designer and aims at placing both more recent work and earlier, less known work, within the context of a thematic study of his method. It is loosely based around a study of the intuitive contra: the iconographic, and studies of thematics and dialogue in his work.

The core of this text has been primarily visits to several of his buildings in Oslo, in addition to the Nordic Pavilion at Venice, and lengthy discussions with the architect and a former colleague of Fehn. Fehn's work, both the architecture he generates, and the passages that he writes, question fundamental, architectural and spatial issues, which many students and practitioners neglect to question for themselves. Fehn's work represents the work of an architect who has intuitively followed his own agenda, based on an initial break with tradition. It has sought to answer fundamental architectural dilemmas as a basis for the generation of a project, rather than blindly following Modernist dogma, which inevitably would lead to the self-destructive reductionist work that has marred most European cities. This study of his work aims to bring to life these thoughts and the way he works, as a means to find the architectural temperament of the lines that he draws.


Living Architecture, Volume No. 15/1997, pp. 184-213.

Fjeld, Per Olaf The Thought of Construction, the Work of Sverre Fehn New York: Rizzoli, 1983.

Norberg-Schulz Sverre Fehn: Samlede Arbeider Oslo: Orfeus Forlag, 1997.

Sverre Fehn, Architect Exhibition curated by the Norwegian Museum of Architectre, at the Henie-Onstad Senter for Art. Exhibition and Catalogue. Hovikodden near Oslo, December, 1997.
Alexander Franklin

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