Villa Stenersen is regarded as one of the foremost examples of Norwegian functionalism (or modernism) and is one of Korsmo’s most well-known works.
The house has been listed as a heritage building by the Directorate for Cultural Heritage, and refurbishments are gradually being carried out to restore the building to its original colours and materials. Rolf Stenersen donated the villa to the Norwegian state in 1974 to be used as the prime minister’s residence, but only one Norwegian prime minister ever lived there (Oddvar Norli). In spring 2014 the National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design took over the administration of Villa Stenersen and was put in charge of presenting the house’s architecture and design to the public.
By the time Arne Korsmo began working on Villa Stenersen, functionalism had already firmly established as a school of architecture. Nonetheless, the architect’s interest in innovative and untested solutions meant that his villas represented something entirely new. Characterized by its highly international style, Villa Stenersen is considered a major work both in Korsmo’s career and in Norwegian functionalism.
Korsmo’s commission from Rolf Stenersen was to design a single-family house for the Stenersen family. But just as importantly, the house would have to accommodate Stenersen’s art collection. That provision aside, Stenersen had few if any demands concerning the house’s appearance and design, and the free reins given to Korsmo may be clearly seen in the house and its design. As Korsmo himself noted a few years later “When the understanding of function, material, and form becomes a living aesthetic ideal for those who want something built, this will manifest itself as a stricter demand on the architect’s qualifications, and architecture will once again become the living, artistically powerful expression of the vibrant joy of life and of human trust. An owner who takes a leap of faith with the architect is therefore entitled to the best possible result.”