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Taking a look at the Skaugum Estate

The Skaugum Estate is a beautiful estate set in a setting about 12 miles south-west of Oslo in the Asker municipality. The Skaugum Estate is home to the Crown Prince and Crown Princess of Norway who are expected to make this residence their home until they become King and Queen.

Crown Prince Olav and Crown Princess Märtha married in 1929, and Fritz Wedel Jarlsberg sold the home to the couple. The Crown Prince and Princess immediately moved into the main building of the estate; unfortunately, a fire broke out, and it burned to the ground on 20 May 1930. During World War Two, the property was taken over by the German Reichskommissar Josef Terboven. Terboven was the leader of Norway during the German occupation.

In the Middle Ages, the home was owned by the church; it had belonged to the Church of Saint Mary in Oslo, as well as the Nonneseter convent. Then it passed through several owners, some of whom were a government minister and a Norwegian ambassador to Paris. In 1909, the Norwegian Government Minister, Fritz Wedel-Jarlsberg bought the estate.

Skaugum in 1921. Photo: Anders Beer Wilse (Public Domain) via Wikimedia Commons

People did not realise that the architecture of the Skaugum Estate was not only a beautiful home on the outside, but it was elegant on the inside, as well, with its beautiful, characteristic design and history. The property was located in the town of Asker and was situated above the small town with Skaugum Hill behind it. The estate sat on farmland which was cultivated and was comprised of farm building; these were for livestock, agricultural and forestry production. On one side, there was a beautiful garden and a park that stretched westward from the back of the building. The original Neo-Classical home had to be redone due to the fire that ravaged the home in 1930.

The Norwegian architect Arnstein Arneberg had been commissioned to design a new structure where the original home had stood on the former foundation of the old building. Arneberg went ahead with plans to move forward on the original layout. He wanted to take advantage of what remained of the foundation and cellars. So, when it came to the dining room, Arneberg decided to retain the original dimensions. Therefore, he took the building plans and followed the original design which had a lovely L-shaped layout. He also used one of the main wings facing the garden with a beautiful view, and he grouped the services facilities together in the other area.

Arnstein Arneberg decided to combine a low line roof for a dining room which had a ceiling height of five metres and breadth of eight metres. This posed a challenge for the architect due to it placing constraints on the design. However, the designer decided that he would not rebuild the house in the same style; he wanted it to reflect the transition from the Neo-Classicism to Functionalism. It has simple lines and clean design with many practical solutions. This was the best architecture designed before the Second World War.

Arneberg planned to rebuild Skaugum in brick instead of wood and use a more fireproof material to prevent the home from catching on fire again. The block used would be a brick façade which reflects the emerging functionalism for the period, with elements of Neo-Classicism. The brick was faced with colour washed stucco, and the large row of windows on the first floor reflects the beautiful design of the reception rooms that lead out of one another. All the other rooms that were deemed not as important were on the top floor.

Although the home has been furnished, it is used as a home rather than a place for entertaining official visitors; although, there have been times when it has been utilised for this purpose. Thus, the Crown Prince and Crown Princess make a home here and, when necessary, perform official duties. Skaugum is a home where the Crown Prince Family would be able to have a more normal family life, and where precedence could take over, and official duties are performed.

There are various rooms of the estate that were designed around the furniture that had been rescued from the flames of the 1930 fire. The architect who designed this had excellent ideas on the home where he could keep the house functional as a family home, but it could be diverse enough to be used as an official state home where state business could be conducted, as well.  There were extensive upgrades that were carried out in the home when the main house had been periodically updated. Then in 2002 and 2003, the main house was renovated, and apartments were designed and added for the Crown Prince and Crown Princess. Finally, the house and the terraces were finished in 2009.

It was in 1968 when King Olav gave the estate as a wedding gift to his son Crown Prince Harald (now King Harald V) and his wife Crown Princess Sonja (now Queen Sonja). When Crown Prince Haakon married his wife, Crown Princess Mette-Marit in 2001, King Harald gave the estate as a wedding gift to his son and his wife. Crown Prince Haakon and his older sister, Princess Märtha Louise grew up there. When, in December 2003, the home was completed, Crown Prince Haakon, Crown Princess Mette-Marit and the Crown Princess’s son, Marius Borg Høiby, were able to move into the Skaugum Estate.

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