The World’s Smallest Hotel

Verdens_minste_hotell_2In 2005 Pikene på Broen invited Finnish architect Sami Rintala to make a temporary project in Kirkenes within Barents Triennalen ”Border Dialogues”. On a low budget, assisted by students and volunteers, he built the World’s Smallest Hotel – with 2 rooms and a lobby, facing the sea, in the town centre. Set in the harsh landscape of northern Norway, it was in total just 27 square meters of enclosed space, with no electricity or running water. Sami Rintala wrote about the Hotel:

“… the seamen, the fishermen, hunters, hikers and fortune-seekers following through the town need a place to rest that would suit their economies that change like the weather… All unnecessary luxury is eliminated.”

After a while the Hotel became a recognizable brand of Kirkenes nationally and internationally, and was nominated in several architectural competitions.
But the World’s Smallest Hotel never got its permanent location and had to be moved twice, which severely affected its condition, and it could no longer be used.

As part of his artistic practice, Sami Rintala has done burning rituals in order to put focus on his projects.
As a farewell to this project, we burnt the Hotel down on its original site under the Barents Spektakel 2012 festival. Press reviews and other documentation about the hotel were presented for public around the hotel building. With the burning we wanted to illuminate the Hotel’s history – the story of relations between a site-specific art installation, place branding, local identity, and local planning policies. How was the World’s Smallest Hotel looked at from inside
and outside? What is the role of temporary or permanent site-specific art/ architectural projects in public space in smaller places like Kirkenes?

Dza, a leading Russian beat-maker and producer, played electronic soundscape specially composed for the burning event.

Architect: Sami Rintala.
Construction team: Sami Rintala with George Lovett, Borghild Hulsvik, Anne Kathrine Vabø.
Total area: 27 sq m.
Period of construction: 10 days.
Completed: October 2005.
Burnt down: February 2012 (in cooperation with Fire Department of Sør-Varanger municipality).

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