The Sámi National Theater Beaivváš and Sámi High School and Reindeer Husbandry School are two important cultural institutions of Sápmi – the cultural region traditionally inhabited by the Sámi people. In an effort to strengthen the two institutions’ cultural position, a co-location to a shared cultural and educational facility has been initiated. In June 2021, the Norwegian Governmental Building Agency announced the architectural proposal by Snøhetta, Econor, 70°N arkitektur and artist Joar Nango, Čoarvemátta, as the winning entry for the New Sámi National Theater and Sámi High School and Reindeer Husbandry School (Sámi joatkkaskuvla ja boazodoalloskuvla og Beaivváš Sámi Našunálateáhter).
To be located in the outskirts of central Kautokeino, Norway, the new facility will be dedicated to reindeer husbandry, duodji, culture, art and storytelling. Gathering all functions under a generous roof, creating robust and specious rooms, we aim to facilitate synergies between building and users, theater and school, and architecture and landscape. The vision of the project is to interpret Sámi architecture with references from crafts, materials and nature. The building’s curved lines and materiality will make it a natural part of the surrounding landscape, avoiding sharp angles breaking with the landscape’s natural shapes.
The vestibule is central to the building and a natural meeting point. Its curved lines, exposed wooden beams and skylight are inspired by the lavvu’s traditional architecture. The vestibule will be well suited for activities such as duodji, cooking or theater plays. From the vestibule, the building stretches into three different directions, adapting both visually and functionally to the landscape, while housing a a wide range of facilities.
The building is shaped to create a variety of outdoor spaces, tailored for the institutions’ needs. To the South-West, the building opens up, revealing an open and inviting main entrance and forecourt. The various spaces for activities are placed to be well-visible for visitors as they enter the building. The landscape surrounding the building is characterized by circular meeting zones, creating soft transitions in the terrain.