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The Giant Lavvu Syndrome

Joar Nango explores space and its relationship to colonial heritage and indigenous identities. Since studying at NTNU in Trondheim, he has created platforms to discuss and develop conversations about domestic and Sámi architecture. Nango often collaborates in various constellations, for example PCATV together with filmmaker Ken Are Bongo and Bergens Kunsthall (Post-Capitalist Architecture-TV) “Architecture after the fall of capitalism”, FFB (an architectural collective he co-founded in 2010) and European Everything (a performative platform formed by European artists and craftsmen who do not see themselves representing a European nation-state).

“I think it’s limiting to see that so many architects do the same thing. The traditional Sámi tent “Lavvu” has mainly been included in ordinary, conventional architecture. It is simplified in my opinion, a very simplified way of dealing with a cultural tradition” says Joar Nango. “I took photos of these buildings. I coined the term “Giant Lavvu Syndrome” because I wanted people, especially Sámi people, to discuss it.”

When Joar Nango researched how architects design for Sami communities, he realised that there were very many Lavvu-like buildings and that almost everyone did the same thing. Nango wanted to create a discussion around why it is like this and that the Sami community itself should question what kind of architecture is needed but also try to create a kind of awareness among architects, that Sámi culture can actually have much more to offer, concepts around spatiality, the material, cultural aspects and the landscape itself – that the relationship between the Sámi and the landscape can be used as a kind of starting point for architecture and design.

“I think it’s limiting to see that so many architects do the same thing. The traditional Sámi tent Lavvu has only been included in otherwise ordinary conventional architecture. It is simplified in my opinion, a very simplified way of dealing with a cultural tradition. I somehow wanted to take the idea back to the very basics of architecture which is clothing, the first protection and coined the phrase, The Giant Lavvu Syndrome where I created some sweaters knitted in wool by women in these villages and the buildings are patterns designed by me and based on these photographs”, says Joar Nango.