Haakon Haanes

Architect, urban planner and co-founder of Nøysom arkitekter

Haakon is an architect and urban planner. In 2015, just after graduating from The Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), he founded Nøysom arkitekter with Cathrine Johansen Haanes and Trygve Ohren. 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.

Before training to become an architect, Haakon studied philosophy for two years in Oslo, which sparked an interest for the broader questions concerning the sustainability of our built environment. With the experimental housing project as a case in point, Haakon and the other partners in Nøysom arkitekter argue that architects should be wary of uncritically advocating so called green technologies as solutions to our current ecological and climate crisis. In stead we should concern ourselves with how we can combat conspicuous consumption by facilitating a deeper and more ecologically conscious relationship between people and their environment. Sustainable architecture, in their view, is not a finished building, but an ongoing, collaborative process of human adaptation through architecture. The possibility that architects can act as facilitators for more sustainable habitation, rather than being just another specialist in the building process, seems to have struck a nerve in the current architectural discourse. It has given Haakon and the other partners in Nøysom arkitekter, the opportunity to continue to explore this question through essays and articles, holding lectures, talks and arranging workshops.

In addition to being partner in Nøysom arkitekter, Haakon has also worked for several years with urban planning and placemaking, both as a part of The City Planning Office in Trondheim and The Agency of Planning and Building Services in Oslo. He is currently employed as an urban planner in the consultancy agency Asplan Viak in Oslo, mainly working as an advisor in questions concerning sustainable cities, urban ecology and circularity.

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