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The Hamsun Centre stands like a stake in the cultural landscape space by the Glimma ocean current at Presteid. The church and rectory are situated up the hill, and the old rectory ruins are the nearest neighbour.

The Hamsun Centre was designed by the American architect Steven Holl - the initial sketches were done in 1994 and the building was completed fifteen years later, coinciding with the 150th birthday of the writer Knut Hamsun in 2009.

The centre consists of two buildings: a six-storey tower and a single-storey cultural hall. The buildings are connected via a subterranean passage, and cover a floor area of 837 m_ and 524 m_ respectively. The two buildings constitute an entrance courtyard. The tower accommodates the exhibitions, reception, café, library, shop/bookshop, cloakrooms/wc and administration. The auditorium has a flexible stage with a retractable amphitheatre and is used for education events, as a theatre and cinema and for concerts, lectures and conferences.