Kaleidoscope
An evolving open lab
Bergen, NO and Helsinki, FI

Kaleidoscope is a Nordic architecture office based in Bergen and Helsinki focusing on making environments that are good for people and our nature. Established after winning the first prize in Europan, they have gone on to specialise in projects within housing, retail, culture and education, and also develop zoning plans and feasibility studies.

 

Winning the Europan

As for many young offices, Kaleidoscope’s foundation was laid in winning Europan. Participating in the competition was a long time dream. The competition was the first collaboration for our team, a way of testing things out, and we were awarded the first prize! Winning the competition gave us the confidence and an opportunity to take things further. There was also a very practical reason for starting the office: we got a commision at Dikemark in Asker, so the same year, we had to send our first invoice.

 

Writing a play to communicate architecture

One of our early projects was Phantom Pain, a contribution to an exhibition about Høyblokka and the terrorist attack on 22nd July in Oslo. We wanted to have a fresh take on how architecture is presented, and considered writing an essay. During the process however, we ended up writing a play - an anthropomorphic piece where the building visits a doctor, supplemented with imagery. The play has been read in Oslo, Bergen and New York, and exhibited in the National Museum of Architecture in Oslo. We still find it a relevant approach, touching the observer on an emotional level far deeper than plans and sections ever could.

 

Finding a balanced lifestyle

There’s lots of coffee here, and sure, we are surrounded by superhero colleagues! Anything can happen during a normal week: One of our recent projects led to a studio rebuild, and we never hesitate to get our hands dirty. We sole-handedly took down a wall to fit in a large meeting table, because we got pre-qualified in a competition for a future living lab and needed to fit all the collaborators in for a kick-start workshop. On a more serious note, it is important for us to keep a clear division between work and free time. Running an office can easily become a lifestyle, thinking about work continuously and spending evenings and weekends at work. Balancing out is essential and family has always been a priority for us. We try to keep work away from home even though we do work a lot, and we aim for more spare time in the future.

 

A continuously evolving open lab

Our studio has large windows towards the skyline of Bergen. This outlook reflects our ambition: the sky's the limit!. Our other outlook is towards the screen: working internationally has made us superstars of video meetings, and this skill has been very relevant during the global corona spring. In Bergen we all sit in the same open landscape. Everyone also participates in the further development of the office space, which was initially a car repair workshop. This is a joint effort, creating shared ownership to how we want to represent ourselves. Just like our practice, the office space is in continuous development; a laboratory in itself.

 

Mixing up different scales of commissions

We have been taking on a really versatile mix of commissions from early on. Perhaps the range of projects is something we didn’t really foresee, but on the other hand we always aimed at the office to become a platform for professional and personal development. Today our portfolio consists of, among others, an ongoing circular economy project for the Design Region Bergen, future visions and research for different cities, strategic planning and participatory processes representing the map based user centered service Maptionnaire in Norway, single houses and other projects for private clients and running the Secretary of Europan Norway.

 

World-famous projects

Our goal is to grow steadily and develop our multidisciplinary approach into a well-known brand. One of the areas we are investing in is sustainability. In 2019 we signed the manifesto “Architects Declare” and are now taking this further in the company practise. We have also from the beginning aimed to have an international company. We collaborate with Tommila Architects in Finland, a family-owned office, Miia-Liina has taken over in Helsinki, and are currently developing a joint strategy for the two companies. Our presence in Finland and Norway provides us with a unique Nordic understanding and international clientele which helps us to gain impact in the matters we promote. The long term vision is to achieve world famous projects! This is a fun goal that helps out in the serious and sometimes mundane everyday. In this sense, the challenges of running a studio add value to life as practicing architects.  



Kaleidoscope Nordic04033  Miia Liina Tommila

Photography Studio 1 fotografene

0p8MihxA Miia Liina Tommila

Photography Courtesy of Kaleidoscope

qMTgsavz Miia Liina Tommila

Photography Andreas Cesarini

00. Dolvik Kaleidoscope Copyright Kvant1.no

Image @Kvant1.no

KaleidoscopeNordic Future2 copyrights and credits by Vegard Aarseth Miia Liina Tommila

Image Vegard Aarseth






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