Utøya

Photography by Are Carlsen


In the wake of the terrorist attacks on Utøya July 22 2011, Fantastic Norway was engaged to create a strategy for the re-establishing of a political camp on the island, in close relation to the Labour Youth Party. The ambition was to reflect and reinforce values such as commitment, solidarity, diversity and democracy, both through form and function.

Erlend Blakstad Haffner, project manager and responsible architect for the new youth camp, did this by establishing a small village with small streets, belfry and a town square on the very top of the island. The village consists of many small units that together add up to a bigger community: a symbol of unity and diversity.

“Hegnhuset” was the most central and important structure for the future of the island. Finding a way to preserve and conceal the cafe and learning center – a building where 13 people were killed, but also 19 people found refuge - was the biggest challenge.

“Hegnhuset holds the story that gestalts the memory of the most brutal event in the post war history in Norway,” says Haffner. “The building is not polished; it cannot be of respect of the bereaved. I built the story of those who daily carries the grief, if they are bereaved or those who survived the tragedy.”

The new building body represents and clarifies shift, a new historical layer and a new chapter on the islands history. 69 pillars of wood support the building’s roof. These represent those who died on July 22. The columns have bodily dimensions and stand together as 69 characters that create the interior space.

Around these 69 columns there are 495 outer poles, which creates a fence around the interior and by number representing the people who survived the tragedy on Utøya, and who carry the thoughts and memories of this day for the rest of their lives.