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Norway massacre memorial by architecture practice 3RW opens on Utøya Island
The ring and the butterfly flower; copyright 3RW, Photo by Martin Slottemo Lyngstad. Photo: Courtesy of 3RW.

UTYA.- The Clearing, Memorial at Utya opened last week and has been designed by Bergen based practice 3RW after they won the competition on November 2014.

At the highest point of the island, overlooking the water and from tall pine trees surrounding the clearing is suspended a 4m diameter steel ring above the ground where names and ages of those killed on Utya on 22 July have been carved out.

No name comes first or last, the Clearing is a symbol to become a place for future opportunities remembering the tragic event by the beautiful nature of the island.

The construction of the memorial was designed to allow for a collaborative construction open to volunteers, the parents of the victims and former members of the youth labour party (AUF-veterans), owner of the island - following a Norwegian tradition called ‘‘Dugnad’’.

When a big tree in the forest dies, an organic process that creates what we know as a clearing begins - open room in the otherwise dense forest. 3RW wanted to develop the memorial on Utya as such a clearing; forming a clear spot and highlight all the beautiful landscape qualities that are already in place and in contact with the surrounding environment. 3RW's goal was to shape the open space between the big pine trees as a major unifying circle. The circle is set in the landscape with a slightly lower slope than the current terrain, but still allowing the sloping down towards the water and preserves an amphitheater / bowl shape. When the path from the central building areas at Utya comes in to the memorial, the terrain lowers gently along the circle, thus creating a seating edge where you approach the circle.

On the opposite side of the circle, the terrain is slightly lifted and you create in this way another edge where you are facing out of the circle, towards the water and Srbråten (public memorial on the shoreside). Along the edge of the circle, 3RW paved the ground with rough slate-stones. This will allow people to move around, even in wheelchairs. The top and bottom edges are also covered with slate so they are more comfortable to sit on. Slate slabs prevent that new vegetation and weeds grow too aggressive, therefore deteriorating the clearing. It thus conserves the clearing without requiring extensive maintenance. Inside the circle 3RW built a garden with specially selected plants that attract many species of butterflies found on Utya.

From the tall pine trees, 3RW hanged a heavy metal ring where the names of all victims are carved out. The names read by the light that shines through the plate. Moving around the ring, one can read all the names.

All building work was planned so that it was performed with a high degree of volunteer effort. There are few requirements for precision, and the concept can be adapted to local terrain conditions on site.

3RW's design ensures most of the work-operations on site would allow for a collaborative construction open to volunteers, the parents of the victims and former members of the youth labour party (AUF-veterans) - a process called in Norwegian a ‘‘Dugnad’’.

The spirit of the Dugnad is embedded in the Norwegian culture, and is very prominent in the local culture in the youth labour party and on the island Utya, both how it has been managed, and how it is run as a political venue. For 3RW the spirit of Dugnad also can be a vital part of the healing process for those affected by the incidents in 2011.

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