The Norwegian Embassy is built as a freestanding building in the garden of an older villa which previously housed the existing embassy. The old building will soon be demolished to make way for the new Ambassadors residence.
The site, in the area of Lalitpur , is roughly 4 acres and sits high overlooking Kathmandu . The site for the embassy steps steeply down towards the north. The fall of the site, taken from the highest point down to the entrance area and courtyard, is equivalent to one floor level. The courtyard sits a further floor level above the main gates. The site is surrounded by high walls with neighbouring buildings built right up to the property line.
On clear days the Himalayan mountain range can be seen to the north
Photographs courtesy of Guri Dahl, Graeme Ferguson, and Kristin Jarmund.
The aim of the projects was to create a representative yet modest building which presents Norway in a modern and quality conscious way. There was an emphasis on that the forming and detailing of the building shouldn’t be alien to Nepal and that the use of materials should reflect local ways of construction.
The new building is on the main part built as one floor level which lies low in the landscape so as not to obstruct the view of the Himalayas for the future Ambassadors residence. A smaller two floored volume towards the west was pulled further out than the ground floor so as to mark the main entrance. This form gives the house a” face” while at the same time allowing the rooms on the first floor to have a view to the Himalayas. The zig-zag formed ”Himalayan window” mirrors the mountain range in the distance.
Entrance / plan solution
Vehicular access is secured by a main gate and sluice which allows for inspection of cars. The entrance courtyard and driveway are an important introduction to the embassy. Natural stone of high quality is used throughout with planting on shelves integrated into the walls.
There has been an emphasis on presenting Norwegian culture through an open and transparent working environment where the use of glass partitions has been used to divide rooms. A long hallway which connects offices and common rooms opens towards a south facing patio with terraces and planting.
Material use and constructive solutions.
External staircases, retaining walls and the ground floor’s external walls are clad in slate, either as tiles or as dry stone walling. The top floor’s facade and roof edge are clad in a light travertine stone. The glass façade system is in powder coated aluminium profiles. Pergolas and parts of the façade are built from the locally available Sesau timber.
The building’s main structure is a stiff framework of columns and beams built upon a concrete raft foundation with concrete decks cast insitu. This meets the building codes and requirements for building in an area which is exposed to earthquakes.
Nepal is one of the world’s poorest countries, and it has been a challenge to get access to materials, equipment and technology. In addition there had been political turbulence during the construction period.
A Norwegian design group took the project through to a preliminary design stage. Local consultants, in collaboration with Kristin Jarmund Arkitekter AS, developed the project through to working drawings.
Local contractors with Nepalese workers were used for the construction. Workers in Nepal generally come to Kathmandu from their local villages and bring with them their whole family. Accommodation for the workers and their families was built on a neighbouring site.
Energy sources; electricity from local network with a generator as backup during power cuts (8 hours/day)
Ventilation; natural ventilation, air conditioning units for cooling and heating.
Material use: the embassy is built literally of stone upon stone. The material use is mostly local stone with timber.
Water is a misused resource in Nepal. There is often not water in the water pipes. The Embassy will collect and reuse rainwater which is not normal practice in Nepal. Underground tanks have therefore been built for the following;
- collection of rainwater via sand filters 120 000 litres
- water from water tank lorries, 20 000 litres
- city line connection 20 000 litres
- fire fighting 60 000 litres
Water from the tanks must go through a series of filters before being pumped into the embassy. Water is heated by solar panels
Project Facts and Credits:
Building’s name: The Royal Norwegian Embassy
Address: Lalitpur, Kathmandu, Nepal
Completed: June 2008, officially opened on the 18. august 2008
Client: Statsbygg og Utenriksdepartementet
Architect: Kristin Jarmund Arkitekter AS v/Kristin Jarmund, MNAL/MNIL
Project architect: Graeme Ferguson, Chartered Architect RIBA
Interior architect: Linda Evensen, MNIL
Landscape architect: Multiconsult AS, 13,3 Landscape Architects.
Consultants: Archiplan, Kathmandu
Photo: Guri Dahl, Graeme Ferguson, Kristin Jarmund.
Kristin Jarmund Arkitekter Web Site: www.kjark.no
About Kristin Jarmund Arkitekter:
The practice of Kristin Jarmund Arkitekter AS, established in 1985, has during the years attained a high profile on the architectural scene in Norway. Confirmation of this are a series of awards and 1st prizes received in both private and open competitions. Today the practice maintains disciplines of Architecture, Planning and Interior Design.
The practice's best known works are Justervesenet laboratory and office building, for which the office received the Houens Fond Award, the interior designs of "Bar and Restaurant" and the National Gallery Café in Oslo, the kindergarten and school projects Stensby, Benterud, Gulskogen and Råholt, the Nydalen Metro Station in Oslo, and the Fokus Bank headquarter building in Oslo.
The practice´s design approach is within a modern tradition, aiming at solutions that reduce complex problems to simplicity in form and function, yet still allowing for a sensitive awareness to context and the human dimension.