Obituary for Harald Hille

Architect Harald Hille passed away on August 7, 2020, well over 99 years old. He was born on March 1, 1921, and spent his childhood partly in Oslo and partly in Hamar.

The Second World War interrupted Harald Hille’s education, as he actively participated in the resistance movement in various areas. He obtained his architectural education in Zurich and started his own firm in 1955. Initially, his assignments were largely related to churches and missions, given his background as a bishop’s son. The architectural firm grew over the years, acquiring partners, first Harald Melbye and then Tore Wiig, and the office was named Hille Melbye Architects AS, today with over 50 employees. The scope of work expanded significantly, but churches still remain in the portfolio.

Harald was a modest man who did not like to draw attention to himself. However, he had a natural authority. Harald’s work ethic, integrity, generosity, and cheerful disposition, coupled with a great sense of humor, left a lasting impression and continue to shape the fundamental values of the office. Purity and moderation permeated his architecture and everything he did. There was no extravagance, but neither was there stinginess or restraint.

Harald led his office in a modern and forward-thinking manner. Female architects were as natural as male ones. Ownership and responsibility were delegated to employees early on, at a time when this was unusual.

Harald held high standards for his employees but also gave them room to grow, providing them with responsibility and trust, and this ethos permeated the office. The result was an exceptionally good, creative, and exciting work environment with large doses of humor, laughter, and festivity, known far beyond its own ranks.

Harald loved his architectural firm. He remained active in the office until he was 89 years old, although he had relinquished control long before that. He did not interfere in operations but offered advice and opinions when asked. And we asked.

Harald Hille will probably be remembered for all the churches the firm designed, a total of 27 churches and parish halls under his leadership. All of them are characterized by modesty yet filled with solemnity and warmth.

Harald was a creature of habit. Regardless of work pressure, weather, or conditions, he met his two close architect friends, Odd Østbye and Fredrik Winsnes, every Wednesday to hike in the forest for as long as they had each other.

Harald was deeply attached to his beloved wife, Elisabeth, who was his constant support in all situations. Harald maintained his health until the very end.

Those of us who were fortunate enough to work and collaborate with Harald Hille have much to thank him for. Our thoughts go out to Elisabeth and the rest of the family.

Tore Wiig

Hille Melbye Architects AS