Knut World, Are Vesterlid. The Sørum Farm- Part 2.



Sørum Gård dates from the Viking era. The farm consists of multiple log buildings, responding to the needs: two dwellings, a barn, a brewery, a storage house and a potato cellar.

Around 1880 the farmers reduced crop cultivation to keeping cattle. Therefore the threshing barn was completely overhauled by a post and lintel construction, as harvesting hay needed large storage spaces and an easy way to unload.


The new construction created a new parallel garage space on the south facade. On top, horse and cart could drive into the barn and hay could be tipped down to the sides. 




While the actual farmers still lived in the main building, Knut Wold appropriated the barn to make it a space for life and work where he could belong.

Soon Knut commissioned Are Vesterlid. By that time, Are was a renowned architect in Norway, especially for his experience and modern perspective on timber construction. For many years, Are and Knut worked closely together on the conversion of the barn as on the other buildings. The Sørum farm is the last accomplishment of the architect and is a manifestation of an ongoing conversation between architect and client.

“The barn illustrates two of the essential principles used in restoring Sørum: preservation through reuse, and modern additions that stand in clear contrast to the old.”

Ragnar Pedersen


Doors were replaced by windows and skylights perforated the roof, letting light in to the ground floor. An entire wall was replaced by a steel construction to enlarge the studio. Rigid volumes including the bathroom pierced the log structure as technical walls. The space next to the log building created the freedom to create a living capsule, held between the duplicated wall.


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A house never reaches a conclusion. As Are died in 2013, Knut asked his friends Beate Hølmebakk and Per Tamsen — Manthey Kula — to design a room for Stella, Knut’s daughter together with his wife, Kathinka.

The design has to react to its boundaries. How does the new confront the old: vivid contrast or melding with the existing. Stella’s room bends in the existing void, following the prescribed lines and foresees future developments.


The new volume houses an entrance and the room. The space juxtaposes the aged wood constructions. In her bed, Stella can see a glimpse of the tree on the south; while her mother still has an eye on her daughter from the couch.


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“In its desire to acquire great perfection, each work of art must from the moment of its finalization descend into the darkness of millennia with great patience and extreme caution and return, if possible, into the immemorial night in which the dead will recognize themselves in this work.”

 Jean Genet, quoted by Juhani Pallasmaa

“Indeed, the forcing of architectural thinking outside its normal course, has often created especially humane, rich and stimulating settings. (…) Fragile architecture.”

Juhani Pallasmaa


Part two of two. Return


Sørum Farm, Architect: Are Vesterlid, asBUILT 15, Pax Forlag, Oslo. Essay by Juhani Pallasmaa and Ragnar Pedersen 

Drawings are composed by the author, using original material of Are Vesterlid and Manthey Kula

Featured image by Manthey Kula

Final image by Roman Kekel