The Sámi Parliament building is situated on a ridge above the Karasjok town centre, on a noticeable terrace on the hillside, 35 metres above today’s alluvial plain. Surrounding the building is a landscape comprised of pinetrees and natural vegetation. Elements such as the concrete and grey colour of the larch wood panelling allow the building to blend in with the surrounding nature. The plenary meeting hall’s oblique conical form, on the edge of a steep incline, is however easily visible - even from the town centre of Karasjok.
The architects Stein Halvorsen and Christian Sundby won the architecture contest that was sponsored by the Norwegian government (Statsbygg) in 1995. A parliament in general has political importance, but also has nation building and identity significance. These were some of the intentions of the contest, where the programme stated that the architect should contribute so that “The Sámi Parliament appears in a dignified way” and “reflects Sámi architecture.” It was requested that architectural tradition should be the basis for this monumental building.
The Sámi Parliament building houses more functions than merely political and administrative - for instance premises for the Sámi Trade and Industry and a specific Sámi library.