If you want to really get a feel for Nordic Architecture, indeed to really get under the skin of the differences between Nordic Architecture and the rest of the world then this is the book to start with. Not only does it give a convincing picture of ‘Northerness’ but it paints a credible narrative of not only the primordial origins of Nordic Architecture but the differences between the Nordic countries too.
First I should start with a warning that this is not a coffee table book. The pictures are in black and white and there to illustrate the text, not the other way round. This is the book to read if you want a theoretical Architectural examination of the Nordic Countries (the Scandinavian Countries plus Finland).
It’s well written too with some great, almost poetic texts and it strives to be understandable and to the point. Anyone not directly interested in Nordic Architecture but interested in its Theory will find a lot here anyway, the book talks of the universals of Architecture really nicely.
Architecture, in other words, is a form of understanding of the given environment. As such, it consists in explanation of the unity of life and place, in order that we may understand where we are, how we are, what we are. When successful, architecture becomes the art of building and thereby representation of an inhabited landscape.
- Christian Norberg-Schulz.
This books grand conceit is the construction of a narrative of the different Architectures of the Scandinavian countries, and that it basically succeeds in its aim to show the unifying and differing gestalts in the North is a credit to the author.
One question that arises, that the book doesn’t cover, is what about happens nowadays where Architects roam a lot more freely across national boundaries and Architectural internships are often served abroad, then how are national architectures affected?
For example Danish Architect Bjarke Ingels worked for Rem Koolhaas in the Netherlands, at least one of the Finnish Architecture Practice ALA’s founding members also worked there at the same time.
Look across the modern Architectural profession with the rise of the Internet, Erasmus schemes and ease of travel and work abroad. A sort of national architectural historical arc for whole countries that this book describes may already be a thing of the past.
Quote from the book Nightlands. Image is from front cover from the painting Winter Night by Rondane