The Hamsun Centre was designed by the American architect Steven Holl. The centre comprises two buildings – a six-floor main building (known as the tower) and a single floor auditorium.

These buildings are connected by an underground passage and have a surface area of 837 m² and 524 m² respectively. The buildings collectively form an entrance area which may be used for outdoor events. The main tower houses exhibition areas, reception, café, library, shop, cloakrooms/toilets and the administration.

The auditorium features a flexible stage with a telescopic amphitheatre with a seating capacity of 219, which may be used for school presentations, as a theatre, cinema, for concerts, lectures, conferences and more.

The tower

The spine of the main building is a central elevator shaft of perforated brass and you can move in a spiral movement down the building, alternating through a large open room which rises five floors and several smaller, more intimate exhibition rooms.

The ground floor houses the reception, shop and café. On this floor, you can get information about the exhibition, events at the Knut Hamsun Centre and other Hamsun-related activities.

The basement houses the administration’s offices, cloakrooms, public toilet facilities and the passage connecting the main building with the cultural auditorium.

The exhibition areas are located on floors 1-4 and are designed to provide a varied and flexible exhibition. The natural light enters the building in dramatic “light columns”, which strike important places in the building on special days of the year. The building features a roof-top terrace, several balconies and windows from where visitors can admire the surrounding cultural landscape.


The auditorium comprises a large room divided into an amphitheatre for the public and a stage floor. The rear of the building features a vestibule, toilets and a control room.

The passage from the stage floor connects the auditorium with the basement of the tower building, which features cloakrooms and toilets. The technical room is located below the amphitheatre. The stage floor is large and is ideal for dances, concerts and the like. The auditorium accommodates 219 people, including the amphitheatre which seats 142.

Ernst Furuhatt / Nordlandsmuseet
Ernst Furuhatt / Nordlandsmuseet