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The Many Ways to be Nordic in the Arctic

Architecture in Scandinavia’s Arctic north exists in a tension between place-specific approaches and globalizing and potentially homogenizing meta-narratives. Here, I will show how ‘Nordic architecture’ is constructed in the Arctic. We can start with the region’s geophysical qualities of snow and darkness. In addition, the words ‘Nordic’ or ‘Arctic’ are synonymous with remote, barren, and barely inhabitable. For most people, the Arctic North is a distant territory. Over the last century, it has been a ‘blank slate’ for southern architects’ projecting their dreams of perfectly designed and engineered communities. It is (almost) inaccessible, but this remoteness has allowed distant ambitions and desires to unfold, unencumbered by the urban complexities of southern latitudes. However, contrasting this idea of the ‘empty’ north, it is an inhabited territory full of life, spaces for culture, thriving settlements, and intimate social relations.

Hemmersam, P. 2022. 'The Many Ways to be Nordic in the Arctic'. In Jiri Hvran & Dan Merta, Nordic Arctic, Sustainable Architecture beyond the Arctic Circle. 28–31.