“Hegnhuset” is the most central and important structure for the future use of the island. It was created with purpose to frame and keep physical traces of the horrific attack of July 22nd, to hold visible evidence of the atrocities that happened and pass them onto the future, carrying with them most important memories and stories. The idea was to lay the new structure over the plot of cafe building where 13 people were killed, and many more hurt for life. In a deadlock and sensitive situation with multiple and partly conflicting interests we had to find a solution which would combine a way to honor the areas of the building directly affected by the massacre, but also to preserve those parts of the building that produced a safe hiding place on the 22nd of July. The building was created in this strong emotional tension.

The central concept is to remove those parts of the building that are not central to preserving the memories of July 22nd. Areas of small and large assembly halls where there were 13 casualties and the restrooms where 19 survived were "protected". Over the remains of the cafe building a second building envelope was added as a protective cover. The new building body was laid in a distorted angle, in the same axis as the other new buildings we have erected on Utøya. It represents and clarifies change, a new historical layer and a new chapter on the islands history. 

69 pillars of wood that support the building’s roof represent those who died on July 22nd. The columns have bodily dimensions and stand together as 69 characters that create the interior space. Around these 69 columns are there 495 outer poles which create a fence around the interior and by number represent those who survived the tragedy on Utøya and who will carry thoughts and memories of this day for the rest of their lives.

The zone between the 69 inner pillars and outer fence creates a cloister. The outer fencing shields the interior of the preserved part of the building. They filter the entry into the building through a charged spatial sequence. The cloister is open between each pillar in the fence for visibility and transparency. But it is also a fence with direction and reticence and clear entries and exits that makes one feels trapped in the building's symbolic constituents. Entrenched but seemingly free. Openings to the outside are constant but it is difficult to find the way there, and get in and out immediately. Openings are placed randomly. This choice is made to emphasize the chance in the choices that were made the 22nd of July and to give the answers we are not getting. From the cloister there are 5 different entrances to the building to give fluidity in the movement and to exclude the feeling of being enclosed.

The interior of the old cafe building houses the affected parts of the cafe building and a learning and information area that has been designed by Atle Aas and Tor Einar Fagerland, with some similarities to the one made in July 22nd  center in Oslo, but with more specific and personal content from Utøya. Between the floors of the old cafe building and the new areas surrounding the old structure, the old main staircase makes a visual link between memories from 22nd July and the dissemination zone around the old building. 

“Hegnhuset” holds the story and memory of the most brutal event in the post war history in Norway. The building is not polished and it cannot be. The idea was to build the story of those who daily carry their grief, whether they are bereaved or have survived the tragedy.


Project Manager: Erlend Blakstad Haffner
Team: Ivana Barandovski, Branko Belacevic, Petar Stelkic and Vladimir Cvejic