[Location] Urnes, Norway [Type] Visitor center [Size] 1000 sqm [Status] Proposal
[Collaborators] Alicja Kubicka & Borja Martínez Gómez
Urnes Stave Church is a unique place in a national context. It is not the most ostentatious or most accessible stave church in Norway. Nevertheless, Urnes Stave Church was chosen to represent Norwegian Stave Churches on the World Heritage List in 1979. The Stave Church was highlighted along with our very foremost monuments. All in all, the church is strict in its external form. The small building, with its prominent position in the landscape, gains strength in its simplicity. What the interior offers of wealth, is in a way absent in the exterior. The interaction with the rugged mountains and the turquoise fjord creates an overwhelming situation, where the history of the place becomes very alive.
The development of the visitor center should be perceived in the same way. Simple but detailed. Open and connected to the place, but at the same time characteristic.
The main intention has been to create a visitor center that plays with the stave church and the cultural character of the landscape. As the stave church and the cultural landscape play the main role in the landscape, it is important to continue the basic place character. Since the visitor center is seen from a long distance in connection with the stave church, it is extra important that the building is kept low in the terrain.
The visitor center will complement the experience of the stave church, and not itself appear as the dominant volume. The body of the building is therefore lowered into the terrain, and the cornice height does not exceed the road leading up to the stave church.
Great emphasis has been placed on continuing the use of retaining walls in natural stone, as they help to give Ornes its special place character. The retaining wall has a constructive function, but will also be an aesthetic sight in the new visitor center. The center is perceived through the two elements natural stone and wood. The natural stone settles firmly in the steep terrain and provides space for the light wooden construction, which plays against the aesthetics of the stave church. The building is arranged so that visitors will experience the place's special character and cultural landscape in combination with the visitor center's inner exhibition and audience area.
The visitor center is in plan a rectangle, with a clear north-south orientation. The building volume is parallel to the height curves, which makes it less prominent in the landscape. Seen from the main entrance, the direction in the building body conveys a clear connection and relation to the "Urneshagen". The building's asymmetrical salt roof gives a more modest appearance both seen from the fjord and seen from the two facades in the north and south.