The motto:X is the competition proposal for a new Pilgrim Centre at the medieval stave church in Røldal, Norway. The competition was concluded in February 2012, and with 182 entries it is the 3rd most popular Norwegian architectural competition to date.
X is created and confined by the existing elements of the site – rows of birch trees confine the pilgrim centre and the old stone walls of the churchyard extend outwards and rise to spatially define it. An atrium, as a modern interpretation of the traditional cloister courtyards, unveils as an unexpected quiet oasis for the tired pilgrim at the heart of the centre.
As the motto X indicates, the pilgrim centre acts as a meeting point on several levels. One can enter at all 4 sides. Each entrance has its own particular use, and the different parts of the centre are bound together by the atrium at its core. The atrium is a multifunctional space that opens up for the flow of people, especially in summer, when the pilgrims are many. The bigger communal spaces open up to the wider landscape and to smaller secluded gardens within the perimeter stone walls.
The interior spaces are created underneath flowing slabs, cantilevering out to provide shade and protected entrances and walkways. These «elevated meadows» can be seen from the adjacent mountain sides, and stand out from the neighbouring pastures by their seasonal flowers. As the slabs cantilevers towards one another, they form light slits that articulate the texture of the stone walls underneath. Their lines curve and indicate the movement through and the meeting points within the pilgrim centre.
A heavy construction and thermal masses, control of the sunlight and shading, low-emitting surface materials and a tight envelope are keywords for reducing day-night temperature fluctuation which make possible the use of natural ventilation even in a nordic climate. The choice of materials focuses on low CO2-emissions and aboundancy: The use of stone, wood and grass roofs have all been common building practise in the Norway.