Lyset paa Lista – TYIN's student project – all photo's Pasi Aalto, unless otherwise stated

What are TYIN Architects up to these days? They've left the jungle – says their old prof mentor, Hans Skotte - and gone to Venice.

Hans Skotte on what happened next to Trondheim's Andreas Gjertsen and Yashar Hanstad, aka TYIN, after their Thai and Sumatran projects went viral across cyberspace, catapulting the two young architects into the architectural limelight.

Tyin Tegnestue Architects (Yashar Hanstad & Andreas Gjertsen) made a splash in the architectural world a mere 5 years ago. Their first projects, designed and built in Thailand, while still students, made them the most published architectural office from Scandinavia in 2014, at that time outpacing both Snøhetta and BIG. The stack of magazines and books featuring their work is formidable, “halfway to the moon” if you stack them on top of each other. Several monographs have already been published and they were the 2014 foreign office featured at the Toto gallery in Tokyo. Alejandro Aravena was similarly invited to that venue a couple of years earlier. They’ve also received international prizes and have travelled the world giving lectures and holding workshops. A unique architectural success story. So far.

Before going into an up-date, I feel it’s important to understand the reasons for their initial success. The world is full of outstanding architects, albeit one wonders sometimes where they all are. Tyin are definitely in that crowd, but their fame is irrevocably linked to the type of projects they first made: small, simple, honest, well designed – but with a purpose. An ‘architecture of necessity,’ disarmingly beautiful in a context of social purpose. We all loved it, thankful for their placing meaning back into architecture.

Skardsøya water front summer house
Lyset paa Lista under constuction
Treading the boards at the Roros Seminar,
spring 2015 – Photo Hans Skotte

Furthermore, their work emerged through their own physical work. They designed as much through the building process as through what was preconceived. They truly lived by the Nabeel Hamdi  mantra of “Don’t think too much before you do – and don’t do too much before you think”, confirming that we reflect-in-action, just as Donald Schön posited all those years ago.   As they were to progress into ‘real architects’, how could they retain their unique and crucial linkage between designing and building?  I’ll come back to that – because these cats have indeed risen to the challenge!

Bus stops for the future

Andreas & Yashar never left the architecture department of NTNU – although their master years were mostly spent away from it. Both their interest and their income in the post-jungle years came from teaching. And just imagine what status these guys hold among the students. They have recently been promoted to associate professors, teach first year students half time, and work in a cramped office on campus on a growing number of private commissions. Here I add the news that Tyin Tegnestue Architects now has a third partner, Ørjan Nyheim, a classmate and a fellow traveler to Thailand. He has added capacity and experience from having worked as ‘a real architect’ for several years already. In addition, there are always some outstanding students working with them, squeezed into their little cell office.

Since returning to their home turf, they have completed some outstanding smaller projects, the foremost being ‘Lyset på Lista’, in addition there are two seaside vacation homes, a bus stop, a liquor store in our local airport (!), an explosive extension to a bland villa, and they are in the process of realising a 1st prize competition project and are awaiting the result of another. All these have been widely published. (re; their home page, And there will be more.  Tyin in partnership with their one-time teacher, professor Sami Rintala has just completed Fleinvær, an artists’ colony on a remote island off the coast of Northern Norway. It’s based on some of the same ideas – but different design principles - as the colony built on the Fogo island on the Eastern coast of Canada designed by Todd Saunders. In both cases the idea is “to make a place where nothing happens”. But a lot has happened prior to the artists moving in. Students have been engaged throughout the building process, this time in part led by Pasi Aalto, a colleague from NTNU, a friend and Tyin’s house photographer. (‘Without the exquisite images of Pasi, no world fame for Tyin,” is my humble claim. Make of it what you will…). Part of Fleinvær was prefabricated and taken to the island; an extraordinary and stressful building process.

Duty Free Architecture – TYIN at Trondheim airport
Home from home - Yashar Hanstad's self-built Arne
Garborgveg home and house

Based on their early works and on the attitude and commitment underpinning their projects, Alejandro Aravena invited Tyin Tegnestue to exhibit at the 2016 Venice Biennale, the only office invited from Scandinavia, confirming their front-line stand. An amazing recognition of these two (now three) youngsters by one of the guiding spirits of today’s architecture. 

And there is more to prove that they indeed are a front-line band. They have now established a separate company that will bid for the construction of their own design, an up-dated version of the design-build approach they initially practiced. Tyin is on the way – not only to put ‘meaning back into architecture’ as I said at the beginning, but recreate the architect as the master builder, the present-day ‘mimar’, or less flowery: they are enabling the architect to be inside the building process and thus use the opportunities that every building process contains, but which is now closed off for the architect. Without knowing about the work of Peter Gluck and his architect-led-design/build practice over the last 30-odd years, Tyin did it on their own, based on their own experience. They invested in the serendipity of the building process. The current division of labor tends to make architecture into a mere design endeavor where architects relate to the contractor and his needs and calls…. – no longer to the needs and calls of the ultimate client.

Tyin’s innovative approach is pointing another way. Peter Gluck and Partners have shown it’s possible both financially and not least architecturally. Tyin will – I am convinced – prove likewise. They have just signed their first building contract.

To follow their work will require successive up-dates. They are still young and they seem to constantly reinvent themselves.