Land Ahoy 3/8


Having been at sea for many many hours it was nice to temporarily return to terra firma, and to introduce ourselves to the fine people of Bergen. Sadly it wasn’t a return to entirely dry land as Norway appeared to have been swathed in low cloud and accompanying drizzle. That said, considering the inauspicious weather, it was still looking largely handsome.

Whilst others headed for the Hanseatic buildings of Bryggen, with the many associated opportunities to purchase alarming troll based tat, I was rather more taken with Bergen’s City Hall (built in 1974 and designed by Erling Viksjø*) and the less easily photographed (by me anyway) Grieg Hall, home of the annual Norwegian Brass Band Championship and a haunt (and I use the term advisably) of much of Norway’s Black Metal scene, a fact sadly omitted from much of the available tourist literature.

*Further research via the January – March 1960 issue of Concrete Quarterly (which is a tremendous publication that’s still going strong and is well worth investigating further) suggests that Mr Viksjø, along with his civil engineer colleague, Sverre Jystad, were behind the development of Naturbetong – an attempt to introduce a natural element to the use of concrete for those who find their béton brut a “trifle too brut for their liking”.

Concrete Quarterly also informs me that Erling was coming to the UK to lecture in the autumn, however if like me you missed his visit (spectacularly in my case) they suggest you pay a visit to the Cement and Concrete Association‘s research station in Wexham Springs where “a sample of Naturbetong is being built with carefully selected aggregate to demonstrate the technique”. Road trip anybody?

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