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MORFEUS, Bukkekjerka, Norway, Støvring Wille

Resting on Holy Ground: Bukkekjerka by Morfeus arkitekter

Norway’s unique landscape can be discovered by means of 18 selected routes leading throughout the country. These roads feature vantage points, attractions and rest areas whose architecture accentuates the dramatic natural environment. In northern Norway, Morfeus arkitekter of Oslo have created one of these places. Bukkekjerka celebrates the diversity of the place and reflects the surrounding landscape.

The Andøya landscape route runs 50 km along the western coast of the island, leading over a rocky ledge between the open sea and craggy mountains. On the Børhella headland, between the sea and the road, stands the Bukkekjerka mountain formation, a pre-Christian, sacred Sami sacrificial site with a natural altar. Bukkekjerka, or Bohkegeargi in Sami, means gap or stone: the area is now protected as cultural heritage. For the past 50 or 60 years, it has been the setting of open-air church services that attract residents from the entire region.

The north side of Bukkekjerka now offers places to park and relax; there is also a public toilet. Architects Caroline Støvring and Cecilie Wille, the founders of Morfeus arkitekter, were inspired in part by traditional Norwegian outhouses. Reflecting glass allows occupants to look out at the open sea and the mountains to the north. From outside, the glass reflects the surroundings and the outhouse blends into the landscape. Polished, acid-proof steel completes the structure and also reflects the surroundings. Picnic areas and other resting places are located by the south wall. This is where the annual church service and other gatherings take place. From a free-standing bench set on the peak, visitors can view the sea, the mountain range to the north and the midnight sun. Hiking paths, a campfire site on the shore and a small pedestrian bridge that shows the way to the lighthouses on the holm are further elements that make up the attraction.

All the elements on the grounds are made of folded exposed-concrete slabs with various surface treatments; they are inspired by the region’s cliffs. Function and landscape determine the shape of the slabs. The parking, picnic and rest areas designed by Morfeus arkitekter, as well as the bench, bridge and campfire site are adapted to the landscape, not the other way around. Visitors can discover each element step by step, which arouses the desire to explore further. Bukkekjerka becomes part of the whole experience: the route along the island of Andøya becomes a journey for nature lovers.

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