Girjegumpi: The Sámi Architecture Library - Joar Nango


Girjegumpi: The Sámi Architecture Library


Architect and Artist: Joar Nango

Commissioned by ArkDes
with The Museum of Finnish Architecture and The National Museum of Norway


Production Support in Venice



For over fifteen years, architect and artist Joar Nango has been assembling an archive of books about issues relevant to Indigenous architecture.

This year Nango, alongside a team of collaborators, unfolds Girjegumpi: The Sámi Architecture Library — a structure, social space, and source of knowledge around architecture in Sápmi — at the Nordic Countries Pavilion at the 18th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia.

The pavilion officially represents Finland, Norway and Sweden through the Museum of Finnish Architecture, The National Museum of Norway, and ArkDes – The Swedish Centre for Architecture and Design.

Girjegumpi is a spatialisation of conversations and research initiated by Joar Nango over two decades of practice at the intersection of architecture and art. As an itinerant, collective library, the project has evolved and expanded with site-specific adaptations as it has travelled to different locations in Sápmi and the broader Nordic region. This journey involves multiple collaborations, including artists and craftspeople such as Katarina Spik Skum, Anders Sunna, Ken Are Bongo, and Anders Rimpi, among others.

Central to Girjegumpi is the archive that it contains and shares – from rare titles to contemporary books, the collection of more than 500 editions embraces topics such as Sámi architecture and design, traditional and ancestral building knowledge, activism, and decoloniality. This archive also comprises artworks, materials, design details, and found objects.

As a gathering space, it hosts large groups of people.
As a reading room, it offers an environment for solitary study and reflection.
As a critical project, it builds spaces for Indigenous imagination.

Nomadic by design, Girjegumpi is a living project addressing the relevance of Indigenous culture in architectural discourse and construction today: the importance of collaborative work, building techniques and use of resources in rapidly changing climate conditions, the use of locally grounded material flow and sensitive approaches to landscapes and nature. It highlights the architect’s position towards a more polyphonic understanding of the world.
The Nordic Countries Pavilion, designed by Sverre Fehn in 1962, was conceived to represent forms of cooperation across the Nordic countries. In this context, Girjegumpi opens to an international audience to continue building bodies of knowledge, collaboration and solidarity that transcend national boundaries.


About Girjegumpi:
The word Girjegumpi is derived from two Northern Sámi words: ‘girji’, meaning book, and ‘gumpi’ – a small mobile reindeer herder cabin on sledges, often pulled by a snowmobile. This wordplay refers to a library, an archive, and the construction in which these are stored and transported. Girjegumpi has unfolded in many locations since 2018. When it is not travelling, it is based at the Sámi Dáiddaguovddáš (Sámi Centre for Contemporary Art) in Kárášjohka/Karasjok. A sister version of Girjegumpi is held by the National Gallery of Canada in Odàwàg/Ottawa.

Girjegumpi’s collaborators:

Håvard Arnhoff, Ken Are Bongo, Petter Bratland, Stefano Crosera + Margherita Pasqualato (Cantiere Daniele Manin), Mathias Danbolt, Ole-Henrik Einejord, Astrid Fadnes, Jenni Hakovirta, Eirin Hammari, Elin Haugdal, Petri Henriksson, Tone Huse, Robert Julian Hvistendahl, Iver Jåks + Jon Ole Andersen, Anne Kare Kemi, Annik Kristiansen Hagen, maka design, Grete Johanna Minde, Karen Inger Anne Nango, Nils John Nango, Anne Henriette Nilut, Ole Thomas Nilut, Raisa Porsanger, Tobias Aputsiaq Prytz, Anders Rimpi, Katrine Rugeldal, Wimme Saari, Sámi Architecture Dictionary Group, Arne-Terje Sæther, Katarina Spik Skum, Mary Ailonieida Sombán Mari, Četil Somby, Anders Sunna, Anna-Stina Svakko, Eystein Talleraas, Petter Tjikkom, Magnus Antaris Tuolja




Photo Credits:

Girjegumpi: The Sámi Architecture Library. Photo: Laurian Ghinițoiu (2023). CC BY-SA 4.0.
Conversations and Opening Ceremony at Girjegumpi. Photo: Federico Sutera (2023). CC BY-SA 4.0.
Cover by Francesca Vason, M+B Studio.