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Office & Conservatory on Valberget
The addition of a glass conservatory to the Valberget Office
Stavanger, Norway
Melvær & Lien (office), Krærneland AS (conservatory)

1999 & 2003

In 1999, Helen & Hard was commissioned to transform a historic timber house in Stavanger’s center, built in 1850, into a contemporary advertising office. Avoiding both nostalgia and a simple traditional-modern dualism, the project focused instead on an assemblage of playful interventions which could create a generous and functional working environment in the narrow wooden structure.

A new glass core was inserted in the existing shaft of a chimney removed over half a century earlier, creating a multiuse object serving as ventilation shafts, lightwell, furniture and room divider. In the loft, the difficult space where the sloped roof meets the floor was interpreted as a series of cockpits, used as workspaces, storage and infrastructure. Equipment used during the construction of the project was transformed into flexible furniture, while shelves were made from scaffolding, tables were made of pallets and new columns of piston rods. A concrete platform was cast into the existing rock to create an intimate meeting place in the cellar. The existing doors, mouldings and wallpapers were refurbished and reinterpreted in the ground floor. The central space was left clear, giving the visitor a new, kaleidoscope-like perspective into the four quadrants of the plan.

Team: Siv Helene Stangeland, Reinhard Kropf, Dag Strass

Helen & Hard was asked to revisit the site in 2003. Our task this time was to rebuild an out-house that had stood in the garden 120 years earlier for use as a conference space. The challenge here was to achieve both optimum functionality and a sense of using the few square metres available and, at the same time, satisfy the provisions of the preservation order.

The design concept of the conservatory highlights the features surrounding it: the treetops above, the public park and Stavanger’s historic Valberg Tower, the protected natural stone walls, the garden and its plants, and the view overlooking the harbour and the mountains. The affinity between these elements is created by means of an airy, glass-supported construction that renders the entire house transparent.  While coloured glass girders and glass walls support a glazed ceiling, strict preservation required that the stone wall be rebuilt, even though this would effectively obstruct direct access onto the site and views of the park. We solved this problem by constructing hinges in the stone walls. In addition, it is possible to open the entire facade out towards both the park and garden by means of folding and sliding glass walls. Our client was a retailer in car accessories, and examples of these are recycled in this project, such as an exhaust pipe reconfigured to provide lighting fitments in the garden.

Team: Siv Helene Stangeland, Reinhard Kropf, Ane Skarpnes Dahl

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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