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Portrait interview - Tidens Krav

Text og photo: Håvard Steffensen

The architecture took Hans Petter Bjørnådal from Mo i Rana to the world. But finally landed in Averøy.

I grew up on a constant construction site. My father was very interested in houses and there was always a project, always an extension, he says.

The interest in houses and architecture therefore came early. But it was not assumed that he would become an architect because of that.

16-year-old Hans Petter Bjørnådal was either going to be an architect, philosopher or psychologist.

An intermediate course in philosophy later, he started at Bergen School of Architecture. The fate was sealed.

Honey bees and alpacas

Throughout his career, he has balanced his own projects and permanent jobs. He got his first job as an architect in his home town of Mo i Rana. There he designed, among other things, the football stadium for Mo IL and Norway's smallest prison, Mosjøen prison, with room for 11 inmates. - It was a bit special. We had to take an oath when we went into meetings, he says.

Eventually he went to Trondheim to work at Per Knutsen Arkitektkontor. He now had more experience and was given responsibility for larger projects.

While living in Trondhjem, he found great love. The designer Christine Blass. There was just one problem – she lived on Averøy.

- It was love that brought me here. I fell into the honey trap.

City life in Trondhjem was suddenly replaced by alpacas, honey bees and fresh air on the small farm on Averøy. Eventually, he was left with an increasing workload at his home office and found that he had to expand.

- I had to make a choice. Either get bigger or start saying no to projects.

In the midst of the corona pandemi, he found the office in Vågeveien and started filling it with employees. Now there are five of them, including a Ukrainian architect on a language course. Honey bee Chistine is responsible for the design work.

- We are a good team, says Bjørnådal.

But even though he had plenty of work, there was some risk in expanding the business.

- It was a big step. You are responsible for other people.

– We would like to be a little bit bigger. But this has to evolve naturally. We can't just hire ten architects and then not have work for them, he adds.

Luxury apartments and saunas

Hans Petter always has many things scheduled. Among other things, he has been given the honorable commission to design a city sauna for Kristiansund. The summer's meetings with the Kristiansund sauna association have culminated in drawings of an extraordinary floating sauna.

– It is very exciting. It will be a very nice project, he says.

He is currently also working on his biggest project to date. An apartment complex in Holmenkollen.

– Here we are talking about a price per square meter of 200,000 and draw 180 square meter apartments. It's a slightly different market.

- We have a good mix of ordinary architectural projects and art projects. We have a large spectrum, which I think is very nice, he says.

Of art projects, he mentions the opening ceremony for Bodø as European Capital of Culture, a sculpture outside Averøy town hall and community landscapes in Tromsø.

The architecture has taken Bjørnådal all over the world and over the years he has collected a number of awards.

David, Goliat and China

Among the projects are meditation huts in Lithuania, art installations in Venice and a museum in Peru. In 2016, the scenography he created for Klemetspelet was nominated for the WAN Awards. In a classic David vs. Goliath style, the scenography competed with a Chinese opera house.

- It was great fun to see that with a budget of 100,000 we can compete with those who have 5 billion.

If you were to mention all the awards he has won, it would take forever. According to Bjørnådal, there is a common denominator.

- That's what we're trying to do. Taking small projects and getting the most out of them.

What is the funnest project you have worked on?

- After all, all projects should be fun.

What is the most special project?

- It was probably the project in Peru.

The project in Peru was the museum project Espacio Segrado Tucume. We stayed at the same place as Thor Heyerdahl lived when in 1888 he led the excavations of the Inca pyramids in the village of Tucume for three weeks.

- We actually built on UNESCO World Heritage land. An archaeologist had to look at every stone that was found, he says and adds:

- We built called the project "Sacred Spaces". It was a kind of temple for ancient religious rituals.

Acupuncture and housing policy

He recently founded a city laboratory for Kristiansund together with Christine Blass and Karl Edvin Endresen. Through workshops and seminars, they will look at alternative strategies for site development.

He asks the question: What would have happened if we had allowed five artists to move into a neighborhood in Gomalandet? And answers himself:

- Suddenly they have opened a cafe and suddenly things are happening. This is what we call urban acupuncture.

He explains that he wants a wider range of tools in urban development. That you don't just use zones on a map.

- In many cities we see artists moving into cheap areas. Then we see that the prices rise and the artists move elsewhere. In that field, you can do many exciting things, if you know what is happening in the districts. It can be a housing policy strategy.

He describes building in Kristiansund as a luxury. Lots of islands and seas. Finding the uniqueness of a place is important to his work.

- We always try to find the local identity. If we start looking to big brother and doing the same as them, we have lost. It happened in my hometown and its not working out.

But he is optimistic about Kristiansund's future.

- Now we get Campus and Normoria. Perhaps this could be a seed for more to happen. Kristiansund is definitely changing.

He points out that what is true today may not necessarily be true two years from now.

- Now it is exciting to be in Kristiansund.

One of his biggest sources of inspiration has been Gaudi and his organic architecture. But he can find inspiration in many places.

- I like things that are built in relation to nature. Then I like Scandinavian design and Japanese architecture.

He is concerned with sustainability, reuse and cooperation with nature. And when he works, he always tries to find the artistic and poetic aspects of the project. Whether it's how the light hits the wall or a window framing a mountain.

- Architecture should touch the soul a little, he says



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