Knut Knutsen was a renowned Norwegian architect in the 20th century. He underwent education at the State School of Arts and Crafts from 1925 to 1930.
After completing his education, Knut Knutsen joined the architectural firm of Sverre Knudsen and later, in 1928, became employed by architect Ole Øvergaard. In 1934, he took on the role of a form teacher at the evening school of the State School of Arts and Crafts. Moving forward, in 1935, he became part of architect Thomas Chr. Hauff's team. The following year Knutsen established his own architectural office for a brief period in collaboration with Arne Korsmo. By 1937, he became a teacher at the day school of the State School of Arts and Crafts. He concluded his teaching position in 1947. Four years later, in 1955, he became the department head for construction at the architectural course of the State School of Arts and Crafts. In 1966, he attained the position of professor at the Oslo School of Architecture.
His pre-war works adhered to the prevailing architectural conventions initially but gradually evolved to align more with his theories, becoming less constrained over time. While intrigued by functionalism, he never became ensnared or dictated by it. Eventually, he found himself in opposition to modernism in architecture.
In his 1961 essay, "Mennesket i sentrum" ("Man in the Center"), he was among the first to address the connection between buildings, land, landscape, resource utilization, and nature in a broader sense, along with considerations of sustainability.
Three practical examples in this direction are Knut Knutsen's own summer house in Portør (1949), Bergendahls' summer house on Tjøme (1960), and Thorkelsens' summer house in Portør (1961).
These can be characterized by the use of natural materials, identification and harmony with the site and nature, and a discreet belonging, integrating and naturally coexisting, free from romantic and nationalistic undertones.
While Knut Knutsen undertook numerous significant building projects, it is primarily his smaller works that have had the most influential impact.
Knut Knutsen has wielded significant influence on post-war generations of architects in Norway. Furthermore, he made a substantial contribution to professional debates, penning 56 articles, predominantly featured in Byggekunst. The fact that 89 articles referencing Knut Knutsen have been published underscores the importance ascribed to his opinions and work. As a teacher and professor, he played a role in influencing a considerable number of architects who had been his students.
According to Siri Skjold Lexau in Norsk arkitekturhistorie (Oslo 2003), on page 408, Knut Knutsen is described as an architect "who developed Norwegian building practices by incorporating qualities from modernism with a more local stylistic expression, and by using local materials such as wood and natural stone."
Knut Knutsen was the father of the architect Bengt Espen Knutsen.