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"What we share. A model for cohousing". Photo: National Museum of Norway/Chiara Masiero Sgrinzatto and Luca Nicolò Vascon.
"What we share. A model for cohousing". Photo: National Museum of Norway/Chiara Masiero Sgrinzatto and Luca Nicolò Vascon.

Press release -

The Nordic Pavilion at the 17th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia

At the 17th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia, the Nordic Pavilion is transformed into a full-scale section of a solid wood cohousing project designed by Helen & Hard architects in close collaboration with a group of residents. The exhibition What We Share. A model for cohousing, curated by the National Museum of Norway, presents a framework for designing and building communities based on participation and sharing.

Selected by the Nordic Pavilion commissioners thanks to innovative work in the field of cohousing, Helen & Hard have cooperated with residents of the practice’s award-winning cohousing project Vindmøllebakken in Stavanger, Norway. At Vindmøllebakken the residents have relatively small but fully equipped apartments, several shared facilities and spaces, and a vibrant local democracy. In the exhibition What we share, residents have been challenged to develop an even more radical version of cohousing: Which functions or social situations could they move out of their apartments and share with other residents?

- Being both architects and inhabitants of a cohousing community has made us aware of the potential that this housing model can offer in terms of tackling some of the societal and environmental challenges we face today. In Venice we want to explore this potential and demonstrate how the interplay between inhabitants and agencies involved can create an adaptable architecture, says partners and creative directors of Helen & Hard Siv Helene Stangeland and Reinhard Kropf.

- There is an urgent need in the housing sector to explore new models of communal living. In the past year, questions about our ways of living, and how they closely relate to issues such as loneliness, social encounters and community, have become even more acute, says senior curator Martin Braathen of the National Museum of Norway.

A Nordic model

The Nordic cohousing model combines owner-occupancy and individual living units with shared facilities and communal participation. The model was developed from the late 1960s onward and has since spread around the world.

The exhibition What we share builds on this cohousing model. It is not a utopian vision, but a real proposal for building apartments, communal spaces and semi-private sharing zones in commercial housing projects. The project implements an innovative open-source solid timber construction system that can easily be produced locally and is suitable for self-building.

Visitors to the Pavilion in Venice will be able to walk through and explore a cross-section of a prototype cohousing project that will include communal and semi-private areas brought to life through scenographies made by film director Pål Jackman and scenographer Nina Bjerch-Andresen. Initiating a conversation about the social and political aspects of co-living, the exhibition also presents a commissioned video by artist Anna Ihle, who is a resident of Vindmøllebakken.

A comprehensive presentation of the project, with resident interviews, videos and documentation, as well as other background material, is available to view online at

Please join the digital opening event Thursday 20 May, 2 PM CET

The International Architecture Exhibition

The 17th International Architecture Exhibition in Venice will open to the public on 22 May 2021. The exhibition will end on 21 November 2021. The title of this year’s architecture biennale is How will we live together?, a subject that encompasses ways in which architects can create new communities.

Helen & Hard

Helen & Hard was founded in 1996 in Stavanger by Norwegian architect Siv Helene Stangeland and Austrian architect Reinhard Kropf. The firm currently employs 26 people and is known for its innovative use of wood and experimental housing projects.

Nordic Collaboration

The Nordic Pavilion in Venice is co-owned by Sweden, Finland, and Norway. In 2021, the National Museum of Norway will be in charge of realizing the exhibition, on behalf of commissioners Stina Högkvist at the National Museum, Carina Jaatinen at the Museum of Finnish Architecture and Kieran Long at ArkDes, Sweden's National Centre for Architecture and Design.

The exhibition is supported by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Nordic Culture Fund.

Exhibition Team

Martin Braathen and Joakim Skajaa, Gudrun Eidsvik and Karianne Ommundsen, and Cathrine Furuholmen, all from the National Museum of Norway, are serving as project curators, curators of education, and project manager, respectively.

Press contact: Charlotte Sluter | +44(0)7525 118 263

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The National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design opens in 2022. With its new building the National Museum will be the largest art museum in the Nordics. The collection contains 400,000 objects ranging from the antiquity to the present day and includes paintings, sculpture, drawings, textiles, furniture and architectural models.


Simen Joachim Helsvig

Simen Joachim Helsvig

Press contact Communications advisor +47 917 64 327

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