Nordic Building

By Christian Norberg-Schulz

Translated by Thomas McQuillan





Translated by Thomas McQuillan Architecture is a manifestation of the environment in which it is placed, observes distinguished architect and theoretician Christian Norberg-Schulz. A simple enough observation, but one that becomes subtle and nuanced in this landmark book which attempts to define, for the first time, what Nordic building really is. Norberg-Schulz begins by contrasting the natural world of the North with that of the Mediterranean, the Nordic unendingness against the sun-saturated and homogeneous South. Using themes such as "natural," "domestic," "universal," and "foreign," he finds the architecture of both regions sensibly related to their environments; but whereas the South lends itself to abstraction, the North is marked by variation, openness, and dynamism—by low light, forests, and space. Exploring the ways built experience "takes place," Norberg-Schulz charts the distinctive character of land and climate that distinguishes Denmark's, Sweden's, Finland's, and Norway's architectural traditions from each other and from those to the South. While each of these countries might be said to share regional traits, Norberg-Schulz identifies differences (the cultivated and closely detailed landscape and architecture of Denmark, the dramatic, structured forms of Norway) that allow him to account for the way individual Nordic architectures evolved.


Out of Print ISBN: 9780262140577 224 pp. | 8.5 in x 11 in


$30.00 T | £7.99 ISBN: 9780262640367 224 pp. | 8.5 in x 11 in


Thomas McQuillan.


  • Christian Norberg-Schulz lives and studies in Oslo and in Rome. In contrasting with the natural world of the North and that of the Mediterranean, he establishes his interpretation of architecture as a 'form of understanding…[an] explanation of the unity of life and place, in order that we understand where we are, how we are, what we are.' He finds the architecture of both regions sensibly related to their environments; but the South lends itself to abstraction while the North is marked by variation, openness, and dynamism. Rather than offering a representation, Northern architecture engages one as a participant. Norberg-Schulz's distinguished scholarly production provides the theoretical structure that underlies this book; but that weight is borne lightly as he insightfully places the architecture of his native North in the framework of his lifelong project of understanding architecture.

    Stanford Anderson

    Chairman of the Department of Architecture, MIT

  • Written from the heart and beautifully presented, the book is full of valuable insights into the pleasures of Nordic building.

    Richard Weston

    The Architects' Journal