The Norwegian Wild Reindeer Centre Pavilion is located at Hjerkinn on the outskirts of Dovrefjell National Park, overlooking the Snøhetta mountain massif. The building won the world architecture festival for best display building in 2011.
The 90m2 building is open to the public and serves as an observation pavilion for the Wild Reindeer Foundation educational programmes. A 1,5km nature path brings visitors to this spectacular site, 1200 meters above sea level.
Dovrefjell is a mountain range that forms a barrier between the norther and southern parts of Norway. It is home to Europe’s last wild reindeer herds and is the natural habitat for many rare plants and animals. Among the unique wildlife at Dovrefjell, the Musk Oxen herds are probably the main attractions for visitors. A long history filled with travellers, hunting traditions, mining, and military activities has left its mark on this land. In addition to the natural and cultural landscape, the Dovre mountain range also holds significant importance in the Norwegian consciousness. National legends, myths, poetry (Ibsen), music (Grieg), and pilgrimages celebrate the mystic and eternal qualities of this powerful place. The founding fathers of the Norwegian constitution are ”agreed and faithful, until the fall of Dovre!”
This unique natural, cultural and mythical landscape has formed the basis of the architectural idea. The building design is based on a rigid outer shell and an organic inner core. Reminiscent of rock or ice eroded by wind and running water, the south facing exterior wall and the interior create a protected and warm gathering place, while still preserving the visitor’s view of the spectacular natural panorama.
Considerable emphasis is put on the quality and durability of the materials to withstand the harsh climate. The rectangular frame is made in raw steel resembling the iron ore found in the local bedrock. Over time the rusted colour blends with the natural colours in the sourrounding mountains.
The simple form and use of natural materials reference local building traditions.
However, advanced technologies have been utilized both in the design and the fabrication process. Using 3D computer models to drive the milling machines, Norwegian shipbuilders in Hardangerfjord have created the organic forms from 10 inch square pine beams. The wood was then assembled in a traditional way using only wood pegs as fasteners. The exterior wall was then treated with pine tar while the interior wood has been oiled.
The pavilion is a robust yet nuanced building that gives visitors an opportunity to reflect and contemplate this vast and rich landscape.