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Two Houses on Sølvberg
Two new houses in Stavanger's heritage center
Stavanger, Norway
Stangeland og Svendsen Eiendom AS


Located in the centre of Stavanger, which was constructed primarily in the 18th and 19th centuries, the project is situated in one of the largest historic wooden towns in northern Europe. Among its main characteristics are the irregular contours of the small, white timber houses and the labyrinth of narrow streets, lanes and squares.

As in other period or heritage centres, debates surrounding urban development issues are dominated by the positions of commercial interests versus preservation concerns. This project, which attempted to resolve tensions by combining the spatial potential inherent in commercial and residential planning with a diversified interpretation of the range and character of the Scandinavian vernacular, provoked a contentious public debate that continued for three years, before planning permission was granted in 1998.

The main structural intervention involved the interconnection at ground and 1st floor levels of two buildings, each of mirrored and refracted the characteristics of the surroundings. House 1 is a tower-like building facing an open square, gardens and an outdoor restaurant.  House 2 is interposed between two smaller houses and is characterized by its depth and somewhat plain appearance. In the context of their shared ground plan, its stepped roof acts to mediate between the contrasting heights of the two neighbouring buildings.

Traditional architectural elements were rediscovered and developed, such as dormer windows, and single-storey courtyard or ”service” houses that are interposed between two neighbouring houses. By convincing the client to plan House 1 four metres from the boundary of the property, we were able to provide an extensive outdoor space that today accommodates a popular area for the public, together with an outdoor restaurant.


Key features include facades enabling multidirectional views of the contrasting urban vistas increase the number of exit-options. Existing private gardens are extended by a series of terraces and outdoor spaces located on various levels between houses 1 and 2. Optional facade layers such as sliding wooden screens enable the building’s external appearance to transform, and likewise facilitate a degree of privacy for each residential unit.

The interiors of the uppermost residential spaces set off the contrasting panoramic views. Both houses possess a gallery with a panoramic window facing the sea, mountains and the sky, and a south-facing terrace situated between the roofs.

Team: Siv Helene Stangeland, Reinhard Kropf

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Helen & Hard Stavanger

Erfjordgata 8,
4014 Stavanger, Norway

+47 40 64 06 72
Helen & Hard Oslo

Stortingsgata 12,
0161 Oslo, Norway

+47 93 01 07 37