[Sverre Fehn]

Three were originally invited to draw up plans for a ‘Nordic’ pavilion: the Finnish partnership Reima and Raili Pietilä, Sverre Fehn from Norway, and the Swede, Klas Anshelm. Following the selection of Fehn’s proposal in 1959, Gotthard Johansson wrote in the Svenska Dagbladet of the project’s “stunning simplicity […], without too many architectural overtones”[1] – a proposal for a space able to unite a triumvirate of nations under one (exceptional) roof.

Over five decades later the ‘Nordic Pavilion’ (as it would only later become known) has come to reflect, consolidate and embody Nordic architectural traditions. Look a little deeper, however, and it becomes clear that Fehn actually sought to invert them entirely. In place of heavy timber beams Fehn chose slender concrete lamellae, pigmented to glow (reflecting, for one common metaphor, sunlight falling on a quilt of snow). Rather than create a closed space to shut the elements out—a typical vernacular in Norway—he completely removed two of the building’s four boundary walls. In designing the roof to be essentially open to the skies, Fehn was able to specifically control how the rain would fall into the space. In this sense, it is a building in possession of its surroundings – accepting its direct context while tentatively suggesting another, distant world.

[1] Marco Mullazzani, Guide to the Pavilions of the Venice Biennale since 1887 (Milan: Electa, 2014), pp.122-126.

Source: www.archdaily.com
Photography by: Åke E:son Lindman