Norwegian artist Bjarne Melgaard has sparked controversy with his plans to build a ‘UFO’ home close to the site of Edvard Munch’s former studio.
Melgaard enlisted Snøhetta to design the sci-fi-esque sculpture – dubbed ‘A House to Die in’ – for a plot close to the Ekely estate where the ‘Scream’ painter spent the last 28 years of his life. Munch’s studio was preserved after his death, though his villa was razed in the 1960s, and the area became an artist colony, now home to 44 creatives. Not all are happy about the proposed new arrival.
‘This is the only place where Munch lived and worked for 30 years,’ artist Halvard Haugerud, a 20-year resident of the colony, told The New York Times. ‘We just want to keep what’s left of Munch.’
The newspaper reports that the foundations of the site have been vandalised with homophobic graffiti (Melgaard is proudly gay and explores issues of homosexuality, sex and drugs in his work). Melgaard and other members of the colony have also traded barbs in the media as tempers have frayed.
‘A House to Die in’ is a mashup of art and architecture at its most surreal. Woodland creatures form a plinth for its angular, black living volume, whose sharp form appears to ‘float’ above a pool of water, earning it comparisons to an X-Files UFO.
The building’s hardy charred-wood skin – which has a whiff of ‘Darth Vader’ about it – is marked by Melgaard’s drawings.
This union of form and function will continue inside the building. Explains Snøhetta: ‘One of the rooms could function both as swimming pool and dining room, another could function as workspace and spa. These untraditional pairings are a direct symbol of how conventions are prevented from influencing the building’s usage or design.’
But will this fantasy become a reality? The Directorate for Cultural Heritage (Norway’s top authority for architectural preservation) is set to give its verdict on ‘A House to Die in’ this month. If approved, the building authority and the City Council will then have their say.
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