Date: 11.2011
Project typology: PUBLIC
Size: 950sqm
Location: Roldal, Norway


Project leader: Alex Cozma
Team: Oana Simionescu, Ioan-Emilian Veliciu

Team: Maja Baldea, Claudiu Toma, Attila Wenczel, Krausz Zsolt


Below the glaciers dome:
The fell shows blue, snow glitters cold
About the tranquil home.
A world unto itself it seems,
So, too, the folk who fend;
Barred from the dale by rocks and streams
They share the heavenly vault that gleams,
The self-same God their friend.

Dog se, derborte sel og kv
i slr af fonnens brm!
Der blner fjeld, der glittrer sne
omkring det stille hjem.
Det er en verden for sig selv,
og folket er som den, – fra bygden skilt ved urd og elv,
det har et strre himmelhvlv,
og bedre sol til ven.

Hjfjeldsliv av Henrik Ibsen

The project addresses the complex design intentions of serving the interest of different groups with different targets but attracted by one unique symbol – the Roldal Church. The building has to become a centre for the local community and for the physical surroundings as well as a centre for the spiritual community, much more extended and dynamic, represented by the pilgrims. Through the complex meanings attributed by the design requirements, the building must have different meanings for its different targeted groups, but only one shape and appearance. It is in its essence a symbolic meeting place that serves three main actions: gathering through its public dimension, remembering through its exhibition space that mainly represents a memory hall and meditation through the funeral service space.

The concept is generated by two main ideas: that of one singular appearance holding multiple meanings, and that of a dignified object blending with its surroundings while being aware of the middle age wooden church. The result was a single fluid volume drawn from a singular sinuous curve that incorporates all the different functions and that stretches itself upon the program scheme housed within.

By analysing the topography of the site the inclination towards the river and the soft landscape are the obvious main features. The mellow curving of the terrain determined a curved building shape that has a strong connection to the ground. We chose to position the building towards the lower end of the site, in order to leave as much space as possible between the church and the pilgrim’s centre.
Although a large building, it doesn’t dominate its surroundings. The double curvature of the roof joins in a natural flow the building and the site. The idea of a green roof is drawn from the Norwegian model of traditional housing, and it is one of the main features that decreases its perceived weight and impact on the surroundings.

The design draws its generative idea from a complex set of visual and cultural references, starting from the sinuous traces of movement of pilgrims within the fjord landscape of Norway, to the fluid shapes of the Norwegian middle age figures of snakes and wild animals, to the general representation of waves and mountain ridges covered with snow.
The trace of the building is derived from a double orientation, towards two different symbolic and physical centres of focus. One is the church itself, towards which the funeral spaces gravitate and open visually through a funnel-like shape, and one is the public area with the fire-place as the “heart”, around which the building curls.
By its sinuous shape, the building integrates two separate outside gathering places, in direct link with the symbolism and functions of each end, reclaiming as much outside space as possible. The courtyard to the east is a solemn ceremonial space that bestows a state of contemplation; it has a direct link to the graveyard and it serves as a space for private recollection. The courtyard to the west is the public place for gathering, welcoming the visitors and using the neighbouring mountain scenery as a background. The building is lowered in its central part in order to allow a broad view towards the church from this courtyard.
In relation to the historic church, the pilgrim center itself becomes an outlook point, serving as a ‘church hill’ on which one can walk and observe the surroundings. The path described by the building, outside, on top, or inside, augment the importance of the old church, transforming it into a focal point for orientation and a true exhibit in the natural landscape.

Space and visual relations were the prime factors considered in the plan layout. Through the fact that the main public spaces can be arranged in a fluid unique perceived space, the particular shape of the building allows an effect of interior space maximisation. Another derived feature is the long continuous walls, transparent or opaque. The public open space mediates visual relations within the whole building and creates a strong link to the exterior.
The whole public area can function in a flexible way according to the needs of the center, offering a large free support space for diverse activities.