Cathrine Johansen Haanes

Architect and co-founder of Nøysom arkitekter

Cathrine is an architect and co-founder of Nøysom arkitekter with Trygve Ohren and Haakon Haanes. The small architectural practice is most known for their urban ecological pilot project, “Experimental Housing at Svartlamon”, a self build scheme that has given five families the opportunity to take part in designing and building their own, unique homes; a project undertaken with small financial means, realised through determination, collaboration, and creative reuse. Despite, or maybe because, being so different from other recent housing projects, the self build project has been widely published and discussed, both within Norway and abroad. In 2019 it was nominated to The European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture – Mies van der Rohe Award, after which the young office was presented as emerging architects in Architectural Review with the headline “sustaining the earth is about respect, reciprocity and using only what you need”. In 2020, the experimental housing project even received Trondheim municipality’s Energy award, which is an achievement considering that it didn’t even follow the minimum energy regulations when it was built.

Cathrine and the other partners in Nøysom arkitekter wants to use their role as architects to empower people to understand and take more ownership over their built environment. An ecologically conscious relationship to one’s environment, they argue, is formed by being involved in creating it. “Nøysomhet” (frugality) embodies this ecological consciousness. It is the idea that, in stead of always desiring something else, the key to happiness is being satisfied with, and able to improve on, what one have. In a world that grows less sustainable every day because of mankind’s insatiable hunger to satisfy a never ending string of artificially constructed wants and needs, they argue that a renewed appreciation of frugality is exactly what we need.

Cathrine is always striving for solutions that helps get the most architectural and poetic quality out of the least resources, often working with small, humble projects with limited budgets, like small scale renovations, that other architects don’t bother about. For her, the most important for wether a project is interesting to take on or not, is not the budget, or even the level of architectural freedom, but the prospect of actually helping someone improve their quality of life. Working closely with clients, builders (when they are not the same) and regulators, she try to take a humble, collaborative role, rather than designing every detail to her taste. Every person and place is unique, so every project should be different as well. In addition to practicing as an architect, Cathrine writes, does lectures, talks and workshops with the other partners in Nøysom arkitekter.

Follow @noysomarkitekter on Instagram.

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