Just 6 centimetres shy of three meters wide, Ålesunds most narrow building still rages three stories above the ground. Like the rest of the city, this 23 square meter large building is built in the characteristic style of Art Nouveau – providing the small Norwegian city a unique atmosphere. No wonder we chose this location for one of our Nordfolks shoots.
Designed by Karl Norum, the narrow beauty was built in 1907, three years after the city of Ålesund burnt to the ground. The fatal accident happened at night on the 2nd of August 1904. The whole city, consisting of wooden houses like most Norwegian cities did at the time, was extinguished by the relentless flames in the matter of hours.
Thanks to a close friendship with Germany’s last emperor, Keiser Wilhelm II, the whole city of Ålesund was rebuilt in the style of Art Nouveau. Karl Norum, was the architect behind many of the houses during the rebuilding of the city and played a vital role in the rise of the “new Ålesund”. Including this narrow house.
Meticulously taken care of
The slender building is situated in Kongens gate 10B, at the heart of the city and in the middle of Ålesund’s pedestrian street. The house was originally built by the tinsmith M. Larsen and has been meticulously taken care of ever since, resulting in the building being protected by the Directorate for Cultural Heritage in 1997.
Today it’s owned by Steinar H. Giske, who shares a passion for both old houses and art history. – When we bought the houses, Kongensgate 10B and 12 (pictured, red walls), they had suffered some damage from a recent fire. With help from the National Heritage board, we decided to restore the buildings to its original condition down to the tiniest detail, he says. Both colours and the level of details take us several years back and can now tell us a story about what once was, he explains.
Art in the Art Nouveau house
As mentioned, the current owner has a passion for art. – When I retire I want to study art history, he tells us. No wonder the first floor houses an art gallery curated by the local gallery owner and photographer, Hugo Opdal.
As with our products, it’s important to us to share the story about Norwegian design history. It may only be a house, but the transformation of Ålesund has shaped our local designers and creatives through the years.
Steinar is the founder and CEO of Giske Shipping and GISKE AS which specializes in overseas container transport worldwide. As one of the pioneers in handling refeer shipments overseas to Asia, especially from Norway to Japan, Steinar has been traveling to Japan annually for 40 years.
His business may seem in strong contrast to his passion, which is cultural heritage, architecture from different eras, art and design. On the other hand his travels may have inspired such interest – even though we believe the Norwegian heritage is closest to his heart.