Crafting an Architecture of Necessity

TYIN tegnestue, humanitarian, architecture, Norway, Norwegian, Yashar Hanstad, Andreas Grøntvedt Gjertsen

What TYIN Tegnestue has learned in six years since launching their humanitarian practice.

Written: Katie Crepeau

Photos: Pasi Aalto

The lustrous entry hall of the Student Society in Trondheim, with its stately, chevron-topped columns circling a dramatic, sparkling chandelier, seems an outlier in the portfolio of Norwegian architecture firm TYIN Tegnestue, which has become known for dynamic, textured, and eclectic buildings around the world. However, this restoration project — a competition won and completed in 2007, during founders Yashar Hanstad and Andreas Grøntvedt Gjertsen’s third year of architecture school — set the philosophy behind the internationally acclaimed TYIN (pronounced “teen”) into motion.

While restoring the 1920s Rundhallen (Student Society) at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Hanstad and Gjertsen decided they needed a change of scenery so they bought a boat. Living on the one-hundred-year-old boat named “TYIN” in the frigid waters surrounding Trondheim, the young architecture students frequently aired their frustrations about spending a year improving a space that was in perfectly good shape. They stumbled on a comic strip that perfectly encapsulated how they felt: In the first and second scene, a seagull is shown apathetically flying in an open sky. Then the seagull realizes how bored it is. “F*ck! F*ck! F*ck!” it shouts. “This is soooo boring!” After this realization, the seagull returns to cruising the sky, as in the first two scenes. To Hanstad and Gjertsen, the comic symbolized the cycle they wanted to escape: airing frustrations about meaningless actions but never making a change. So the architecture students made a pact never to work again on a project that, at the end of the day, made them scratch their heads and wonder why they were doing it.

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