PLACE: Urnes, Norway
AREA: 700 m2
YEAR: 2021
CLIENT: Fortidsminneforeningen
TYPE: Museum/Visitor Centre
STATUS: Open international competition, proposal
TEAM: Audun Hellemo/Kristin Jahr Hilde, Silvia Diaconu/Firefly Architecture

SCALE (small>large)
STATUS (idea>built)

The propsal for the new visitor centre for the UNESCO heritage site of Urnes stave church is based on limited impact of a steep site, with the different programmatic volumes placed to minimize the need for terrain alterations, while reflecting the spatial experiences in the museum – from bright and extrovert to closed and intimate. Working with proportions, height, view and light to emphasize the themes of the exhibitions, the new visitor centre adds new ways to explore the surrounding landscape in which the building sits.

The programmatic volumes are placed against the concrete retaining wall, and shifted in plan and section to create new spaces and experiences, both indoors and outdoors. 

The new visitor centre is placed between the ferry stop and the stave church. Terraces and pockets for exhibitions, parkering and views are places along the road leading to the church.

The conceptual models show the transition in experience from the panoramic entrance and cafe to the gradually darker and intimate exhibition spaces.

The different programmatic spaces are placed according to their need for view, daylight and security.

The interiors reflect the transition from outside to inside, from bright to dark, from extrovert to introvert
Spatial proportions, column positions and filtered daylight enhance the experience.

Ticket sales and cafe

Exhibition space: forest

Exhibition space: church

The elevation is based on simple grid with wooden facade elements that filter the light according to the general spatial concept.
The treatment of each element echoes the traditional wooden craftmanship visible in the stave churces.