Architectural Illustration, The Rest Is Imagination

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Architectural Illustration, The Rest Is Imagination

Kolab Architects


Who influences you graphically? 

We are inspired by a wide range of artist and architects in our graphic work. Not all of them are easy to spot in the final result, but we find a great source of inspiration in the graphic work of Mies van der Rohe, Rachel Whiteread, Tom Emerson, Caruso St.John, Atelier Bow-wow and the Dada movement.

We are also very much inspired by our friends and colleagues work, their detailed line drawings and illustrations, and find collaboration to be the greatest source of inspiration.

What is the effect and purpose of juxtaposing colour to monochromatic use of the palette?

We have a common understanding in our team that illustrations of architecture are precisely that- illustrations. Not a vision of reality, not selling a dream. So much non-completed architecture is being portrayed as alternate realities in our time, – visualisations instead of illustrations. The work we do – if ever realised- will always look, act and interact differently than imagined. In our somewhat abstract way of illustrating the work we try to focus on the space and form of the proposal and its inherent qualities, without adding too much decor. We believe that the readers and receivers of our work will be able to add a bit of their own imagination into the illustration, and not be fooled by a hot air balloon and a sunny day. We make illustrations showing our architecture on the most mundane rainy day -with hardly any people around- to underline that the quality of the proposal is not dependent of speculative story-telling in its imagery. We aim at emphasising what is solid mass, translucent, dark or light. What is open and closed. What spaces that occur – and leave the rest to imagination.

The images are heavily textural what is the intention behind this? 

With our common backgrounds from preliminary art studies we have great respect for the manual skills. In our (mostly) digital work, we try to encompass as much of this as possible, by continuously building models and drawing by hand. The textures are a way of encompassing these crafts to the digital result. Still, the illustrations are purposely abstract to underline the relation between reality and fiction.

How does the use of brush strokes in juxtaposition to the plain paint bucket help in establishing a determinate reading of the image? What is this reading for you?

The “brush strokes” are scanned hand drawn textures, that our collaborator Marte Skolseg Bruvik use to make her distinct illustrations. The result is an honest manual-digital result. We do not work solely by hand, and hence aim for the clean graphics of the digital tools in juxtaposition to the hand drawn textures. It mirrors our working process in an honest way.

To what extent do the silhouettes help bring the proposal to life in terms of revealing function? what would be the effect of not featuring them?

The silhouettes are important in the sense that they can help setting focus to important aspects of the proposal, and determine scale. In the same way as the overall graphic expression, they are intentionally unrealistic and kept to a minimum. This hopefully leads to reflections from the viewer upon the architecture that will frame the human activity.



Kollaboratoriets entry to the open call from gallery 0047 and Arkitektur N.

As a symbol, Høyblokka exists in a state of narrative limbo. It is without question part of a story, but it is one which is not yet known. Its meaning will be determined by what happens next. It would be easy to fill Høyblokka with guarded offices and locked doors – as easy as it would be unacceptable.

We are inclined to pursue utopias, yet the state of the public discourse makes us realise the inherent futility of this we are not faced with poor alternatives, but with their complete absence. Finding a program that carries sufficient weight to coexist with the symbolic content of the building proves to be the main challenge. Additionally, a new program must be important enough to both provide a considerable socio- economic value as well as reviving the surrounding public spaces. Student housing is one such program.

The demand for student housing is insatiable. Being able to provide it in such a central location, in a part of the city so desperately in need of a more diverse urban life, would be of great value. This program ensures that the building remains public property. Both the roof and the artworks embedded in the stairwell can be made available to the general public. The facade can be preserved, independently of any interior changes, and the relationship to Y-blokka can be strengthened by expanding the program to encompass both buildings and their adjacent public spaces.







House of Fairytales

Kollaboratoriets entry to the H.C Andersen ideas competition in Odense, Denmark.

A forest forms the core of the proposal. It is a wild place, unruly, dense and vibrant, a universe unto itself, a world of fairytales.

The idea emerges from an understanding of context and contrast, it is developed according to the core values and themes of H. C. Andersens writings. Taking its cues from the history of the site, the project is a divergent continuation of the story of that place, both real and surreal at once.

Numerous conditions, and the transition between, them shape the iconic impact of the building. A shift from the rhythm of the cityscape to the organic expression of the forest. Within the forest, the measured and precise forms of the buildings continue the play on contrasts. Each element differentiates itself from the preceding and provides the framing that will maximize the impact of the next. In this way the proposal forms a continuous narrative, from the point where the familiar cityscape is left behind, to the final discovery of the museum and its branching sequence of spaces.

The House of Fairytales is the centrepoint of a self contained universe that intersects and interacts with our own in a way that is enriching to all users irrespective of culture. A combination of architectural specificity and programatic indeterminacy lays the foundation for a multilayered and changing experience.

Expectations, the idea of what comes next, plays an important role in the proposal. Contextual clues are used as a means to reward exploration with unexpected twists or encounters. In overcoming these challenges visitors take possession of their discoveries, intangibly making a part of museum their own.

Rather than choosing a conventional approach, a building of more overt or extravagant character centered in a conventional park, this proposal focuses on providing the setting for a journey, using all available options to cultivate qualities found nowhere else.


House of Fairytales


House of Fairytales


House of Fairytales


House of Fairytales


“D3 – Lufta er for alle” is Kolab Arkitekters winning proposal for the open competition “Grønt Energipunkt Danmarksplass”. The task was to design a superstructure to the worlds largest charging station for electric cars in Bergen. (Chargers are already established)

The site is placed in the heart of Bergens infrastructure, and is heavily polluted. We proposed an aluminium structure in black and white, with perforated corten steel walls shielding users from rain and wind. The proposed structure is surrounded with a bamboo forest, combined with small straw fields and benches where one could rest during the charging.









Kolab Architects consists of three people with a background from both art and architecture, engaged in a wide range of activities such as exhibitions, competitions and teaching, in addition to being an architecture studio. Kolab Architects also established and hosts Kollaboratoriet.

Kollaboratoriet is an interdisciplinary collective of architects and artists, consisting of both in-house and external collaborators. The physical studio acts as the main workspace of seven people working with architecture, art, set design, illustration, graphic design, programming and writing.

The collective was established in 2013 and is located in Oslo city centre, where we work independently and collectively in all overlapping fields.


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