Text: Kristine Grønhaug
Photo: Beate Simarud/NRC

- When the evening comes, and the light shines from the gingerbread window, the shadows will fall on the table surface. Maybe it gives a warm feeling , says architect in Snøhetta, Ingebjørg Skaare.

She has designed the Norwegian Refugee Council's gingerbread house together with architecture student Andreas Kamark.

Project manager at Snøhetta, Ingebjørg Skaare, says that she and student intern at the architectural firm Andreas Kamark first considered whether they should copy one of the houses Snøhetta has designed in the past. Like the time when they tried to build the Opera House in Oslo out of gingerbread dough:

- But there was a lot of pig, I think. So Andreas and I instead talked about a gingerbread typology: We asked: "What is the essence of the gingerbread house?" Yes, one of the things is that you must be able to build it in dough, which swells. And that it should be possible to build the gingerbread house for people of all ages, including perhaps those who are a bit clumsy. You have to make it happen - and be a little proud of having mastered it , she says and smiles.

She adds:

- Because there are some challenges there, especially with the perforated facade.

Architect assistant

When Snøhetta was asked to design the NRC's gingerbread house, Ingebjørg agreed straight away. She has a strong humanitarian commitment, and is associated with the Norwegian Refugee Council's emergency forces NORCAP. On several occasions, she has traveled out into the world as an aid worker – for example to Nepal after the great earthquake in 2015. As an aid worker, she has designed homes, schools and health centres.

In the work to design the Norwegian Refugee Council's gingerbread house, they first agreed on some criteria:

- We think it should look like a gingerbread house; something that is cozy and beautiful. Just like how many people think about Christmas. We hope that people will make the gingerbread house and set it up at home.

Nice reflections

The Norwegian Refugee Council's gingerbread house has been given a non-traditional gingerbread shape. Nevertheless, you can easily see that it is a gingerbread house. In the familiar Snøhetta style, it has also been given a large, beautiful roof on which the figures can stroll. The roof is fun for the children to decorate, and it can be populated with gingerbread figures or tough men and wives, for example.

Ingebjørg says that the facade was chosen because it gives very nice reflections into the room when the light in the gingerbread house is on (and to avoid a fire, she recommends battery-powered lights!). She says that this with the reflections was part of the plan.

Because she hopes that the NRC's gingerbread house will have a symbolic value:

- There is so much terrible happening in the world now. But the gingerbread house should stand there in people's homes and shine. We hope it will give them a warm feeling. Maybe it makes people think a little about life. Maybe also think about all those who are on the run.

And get a feeling of gratitude for everything you have.