Kjetil Thorsen spent most of his Norwegian childhood on the costal island of Karmøy. He spent his first three school years in Essen, Germany and before finishing his secondary education in Norway, Kjetil spent two years in Sunningdale, England, where he completed his art O-level a year early. It was at this time he decided he wanted to study architecture.
Immediately after finishing the Gymnasium at Karmøy, he moved to Graz, Austria to study architecture, and completed his Dipl.Ing of Architecture in 1985. The same year he moved to Oslo and started his first private architecture practice. In 1987 he co-founded Snøhetta Architecture and Landscape – a collaboration of architects and landscape architects. He also co-founded Norway’s first architectural gallery, Galleri ROM.
Since the creation of Snøhetta, Kjetil has been a driving partner, and as a board member and project director he has been instrumental in defining and developing Snøhetta’s philosophy and architectural ambition. Many of the projects created by Snøhetta has been inspired or led by Thorsen.