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40 328 Restore values: Høvikodden. The Provenance of an art center

Full course name in Norwegian Bokmål: 
Restore values: Høvikodden. The Provenance of an art center
Course code: 
40 328
Level of study: 
Teaching semester: 
2024 Autumn
Assessment semester: 
2024 Autumn
Language of instruction: 
Maximum number of students: 
Person in charge
Erik Fenstad Langdalen
Required prerequisite knowledge

Admission to AHO and successful completion of three years bachelor level studies (180 ECTS).

Course content

This seminar explores the full material provenance of the Henie Onstad Art Centre (HOK), located at Høvikodden in Bærum, including building materials, technical infrastructure, furniture, display systems, lighting, maintenance systems, as well as the thousands of art works that has been on display across the decades.

By thorough investigations of the archives at HOK and at other locations, and through on-site surveys of the building, the students will excavate the sourcing, ownership history, production history, economy, usage and alteration records of the components, materials and artworks.

By constructing an alternative history of the building,  this seminar challenges the way we understand and value-assess buildings, and might change the way we transform them for the future. In addition, the seminar aims to provide scenarios for HOKs future development.

Henie Onstad Art Centre was inaugurated in 1968 and designed by the young architects Jon Eikvar and Svein-Erik Engebretsen. It was radical of its time, both in terms of its curatorial ideas and its innovative architecture. Initiated and funded by the figure skater and Hollywood movie star Sonia Henie and her husband, the shipowner Niels Onstad, HOK represented a state-of-the-art cultural institution much inspired by Moderna Museet in Stockholm, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam and Louisiana Museum of Modern Art outside of Copenhagen. Based on the personal relationships of HOK’s director Ole Jørgen Moe with people like Pontus Hultén, Willem Sandberg and Knut W. Jensen, the new center aimed for a new definition of art, showcasing contemporary music, dance, performance, film and photography alongside paintings, drawings and sculpture, engaging its visitors in new ways.

Eikvar and Engebretsen, recent graduates from Statens Arkitektkurs at Statens Håndverk- og Kunstindustriskole (later Oslo School of Architecture) and employees at Nils Holter’s studio, won the competition in 1965 with an innovative scheme influenced by ideas that was circulating at the time. The project development and the building process progressed in line with the radical museum concept, including experimentation with new materials, 1:1 mock-ups, «electronic» site-management and more. Since 1968, the building had been expanded, altered and restored several times, and the art center has gained reputation as one of the leading art institutions in Scandinavia.

The seminar is part of the research project Provenance Projected. Architecture Past and Future in the Era of Circularity led by Mari Lending and Erik Langdalen, and will contribute to a forthcoming book and an exhibition at Henie Onstad Art Centre. Curators and staff at HOK will participate in the course, in addition to artists, historians and faculty at AHO. 

Learning outcome

• Knowledge of HOK and the curatorial and architectural context the art center was conceived within, as well as the material and technical culture the architects were engaging in
• Knowledge of the discourse of preservation and reuse of architecture, including provenance studies

• analytical, interpretive, critical, and creative skills essential to work with preservation projects, including archival research, surveying methods, as well as archiving, editing and dissemination techniques

General competence:
• Through individual studies and group discussions, participants will be encouraged to examine their own disciplinary position, and be equipped with the critical and communicative abilities necessary to participate in the public discourse on the field

Working and learning activities

The seminar will use HOK as its main arena for weekly meetings and on-site studies. In addition to readings and lectures, each student will be given a category to study throughout the semester (examples):

1. Art (loans and collection)

2. Display systems

3. Ceilings

4. Load-bearing walls

5. Non-load-bearing walls

6. Floors

7. Stairs and ramps

8. Lighting

9. Furniture and objects (storage systems, seating, desks, shop, paper, computers)

10. Technical systems (ventilations, electrical, security, heating, plumbing)

11. Operation and maintenance systems (art handling, cleaning, restoration, repair)

12. Outdoor systems (vegetation, earth, rock, paths, roads, historical traces) The findings will be assembled and disseminated in the Restore Sanity database. The final output will be in the form of a presentation and a pop-up exhibition.


Weekly trips to HOK

The course has weekly half day seminars on Tuesdays and it is mandatory to attend at least 80% of the seminar days.

Form of assessmentGroupingGrading scaleComment
Project assignment-Pass / fail
Form of assessment:Project assignment
Grading scale:Pass / fail