Per Anders Nordby - Myths - Traditions - Structures

Architect Per Anders Nordby (1936-2022) was an artist architect. Architecture takes place in the span between zoning plans, financing, engineering calculations, design and, in the best case, artistic considerations.

This with artistic considerations has been a matter of course in classical and romantic architecture, but we must remember that functionalism and the modern architecture that was created in Chicago in the 1890s, by its creators, such as Louis Henry Sullivan (1856-1924) and Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959), was all the time an artistic design. We must not forget this in the encounter with the cynical vulgar function where utility-diet considerations are predominant, to the great detriment of our urban environment.

But Per Anders Nordby was thus an architect who had one foot in the arts. What characterizes such artist architects is that they are technologically and constructionally modern in approach, but at the same time they are well versed in tradition. They draw inspiration and lessons from the eternal principles that lie in the gap between geometry, topography, climate and the human soul and body. After all, it is people who use the construction sites. This is an important lesson: that everything we are told in the rhetoric of the avant-garde, that artistic renewal consists in destroying and rejecting tradition, is not true. New expressions that do not relate positively or meaningfully negatively to tradition make no sense artistically or culturally.

For Nordby, it was the use of geometric structures and the possibilities of variation that lie in playing with them, which characterize some of his best-known buildings. The silver shimmering Prismet is located in the extension of Haugesgate in Engene in Drammen, which opened in 1986 and had beautiful decorations by visual artist Barbara Vogler, who together with Nordby played with the triangle and the pyramid shape. With such an attitude, the stability of geometry is detached from stasis and set in motion, a process which precisely characterizes the creative and playful human being.

When Sullivan created the immortal slogan "form ever follows function", he used examples from nature, the horse's beauty when it struggles, the swan's gliding flight, the stream's dancing down the sink with rocks and small falls. The shape and function are both practical and express a useful value, but the function is the one that each phenomenon is created to fit, powerful horses (shape) to pull heavy loads (function), slender birds (shape) for easy gliding (function) ) etc. The slogan of functionalism is full of soul, beauty and poetry. Do not forget this when you see Per Nordby's furniture sculptures. These elements can both be used and played with. A geometric figure has a force field around it, so even in straight lines and angles there is openness, system and life. In and out, back and forth, open and close: everything falls into place, everything agrees.

Curator: Director Åsmund Thorkildsen

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