The Norwegian Farm – Life and Architecture

As the topic is extremely wide, I tried first to define a more specific angle of analysis. I will focus on a specific period and some typologies of farms to have a brief idea of how the life within could be. The time scale of this analysis ranges from the end of the Viking age, through the middle age, to the eighteenth century. It is a time which represents quite well the Norwegian building tradition, when architecture was influenced by farm life (rather than by the need to survive life before, or mechanized/industralized life after).


Typically Norwegian farms are located where trees grow, and near a water source. The settlement cut some trees to harvest wood for construction, tools and heating and also to create lands to farm. They are organized like small towns, as they are self-sufficient, with one road connecting them to the closest town.



In most farms; the parcels are often long, going down the slope to reach the water. They are either separated because of inheritance or spread around one domain. Some farms are linear, they follow the contours being parallel to the slope, while other lie as squares in flat areas.


Users wants to mix programs. The working rooms are closely attached or even inside the dwellings. (smokehouses, storages, animal pens…). This is due to climatic reasons: it is more comfortable to work in a sheltered space, than in windy or cold areas.



The construction materials are basic. Wood is the dominant material used for the structure, with clay, straw and earth typically used as insulation. Some wealthy houses have groutless stones bedrocks, planking and tiling as improvements.
The houses are built with criss-cross massive logs. This kind of method is called “Laft” construction. It is a very developed subject, and the predominant type of structure in Norwegian farms. Often, the outside structures are made with braced gates. There is no ridge beam because of the central chimney above the fire place, located in the main room.
A stone path leads people from house to house. The staircases are also made of stone. They are dry, strong and comfortable, as we expect from public spaces. Outside arcades are shelters and lead to a set of doors, where you can enter the main room: the stove.




All of the examples shown below are Tuns. The “tun” is the central outdoor living space of the traditional Norwegian farm around which the buildings are arranged.
Here you will find six examples of different farms all around Norway:


mapSulheim Verts Gard1mapHavratunet








Sulheim Verts Gård, Lom, Oppland, from 1250,                        Havråtunet, Osterøy, Hordaland, from 1300,
500m alti., Firkanttun (squared farm)                                        80m alti., Klyngetun (cluster farm)

mapSulheim Verts Gard                                     mapHavratunet


mapAasengardenmapNord Flugon Fjellgard









Aasengården, Røros, Sør Trøndelag, from 1600,                       Nord Flugon Fjellgård, Tuddal, Telemark, from 1700,
600m alti., Firkanttun (squared farm)                                         600m alti., Rekketun (series farm)

mapAasengarden                                     mapNord Flugon Fjellgard


mapLofoten GardsysterimapTorskangerpoll1


Gårdsysteri, Lofoten, Nordland, from 1800,                              Torskangerpollen, Vågsøy, Sogn og Fjørdane from 1850,
20m alti., Rekketun (series farm)                                               5m alti., Rekketun (series farm)

mapLofoten Gardsysteri                                     mapTorskangerpoll

All the drawings are interpretations from texts, maps, hand drawings and photographs.

– Sammanbygde hus i Hordaland : langhustradisjoner i vestnorsk byggeskikk, 
– Kulturhistorisk vegbok : Hordaland
– Gamle handels- og gjestgiversteder på Vestlandet : registreringsrapport : 1 : Ytre Hordaland, Nils Georg Brekke
– A history of buildings : 1000 years of Norwegian architecture, Ulf Grønvold