Lie Øyen Arkitekter. The Interview

by Christos Pampafikos & Robert Blödorn


Lie Øyen Arkitekter is a local architectural office, situated close to Vigelandsparken in Oslo. In order to prepare the interview, we first researched the work and the projects on their personal website. We found out, that most of their projects are housing and commonly small scale buildings. Due to the size of their projects, combined with their details and care for interiors, shows how this office values the small scale very much. After we booked the appointment in the office with one of the founding partners, Tanja Lie, we prepared specific questions relating to our research. Before our interview, we also had the opportunity to discuss with three out of the seven employees, which helped us understand  the working atmosphere and design process occurs in the office.

Regarding the size of the office and the number of architects working there, the projects they work on, are truly many: we were been told that number was around 60.


One of our first questions to Tanja Lie, was how they manage to advertise their office in order to have such a large number of projects. She answered that they had never really done any kind of advertisement and that their only promotion is by mouth-to-mouth, when former clients recommend the office to prospective clients. Those clients are mostly individuals.


With such a great workload we were curious to learn how they manage to cope with amount of work, either all together or individually. Tanja told us that, in the beginning of a project there is always one person who does the compilation of maps, knowledge and archives, and after that they gather all together to brainstorm ideas and thoughts. In that case, every suggestion is allowed in order to get to the best possible result. You have to kill your darlings, as she says, which means, that you shouldn’t cramp your favorite draft, if it’s not the best of all. After the conversations and the final decisions, which are taken collectively, they split the projects and work in smaller teams.  The good thing with that process is that everybody knows everything about each project and it is easy for them to help out, when a new challenge comes.

As for the media, they usuantly start with 2D drawings and sketches and, if the project or client requires it, they develop models and 3D renderings. Another fact that impressed us was that the office has permanently hired three carpenters to design wooden constructions and furniture, and to ensure the high quality of all interior design and finishes, which is essential to many of their projects.



Another thing that they always do, is to give priority to the clients’ needs. They think that the most important thing in their job is a strong relationship with the client. How the client has imagined his own building and how far is he able to go. A client can sometimes can be stubborn, trying to always be control of the project, and sometimes the conversation can be difficult because of the complexity of the process. After finishing a project, both client and architect come to a point where they are stretched to their limits. The feeling of accomplishment is both painful and satisfying. She compared it with growing up and the farewell of your child. You have to let your creation live its own life, as you cannot keep it forever.

After the completion of a project, then comes the criticism. According to Tanja, in Oslo  architects support each other. This was unusual for us, as we expected great competition. Tanja spoke about of established offices backing young and less experienced ones, which is an image of a very cooperative community.


In the conclusion our expectations were confirmed, the scale what they work with has helped them to materialize and focus their practice. Through their work the aim to make high-quality and well detailed buildings for strong individual customers. This type of work contrasts with other offices that are after more public and exposed commissions.