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Knowledge of Eden

"Utstein Abbey is Norway's best-preserved medieval monastery." *

Yes, but is it really?

In reality, what we see there today is merely the building and the immediate surroundings of the abbey. In reality, research shows that the monastery used to own and cultivate the entire island, and it also owned some land on a couple of neighboring islands. 

Because of the geographic conditions - the water edge as a natural boundary and hills on two sides, the position of the monastery was extremely privileged, allowing great proximity to the water, without the need for a man-made fortification system.

Today, the abbey's main building is objectified and decontextualized, making it hard to imagine the monastic landscape as a whole. 

The project is a reaction towards this lack of understanding regarding heritage preservation and advocates for a better contextualization of historic truth through landscape and architecture interventions.

Knowledge of Eden is also a reflection on the role of the monastery in knowledge dissemination and aims to express this through its experimental methodology.

The project starts from clear gestures - a series of large carvings on Klosterøy, tracing existing agricultural patterns. These sunken spaces interpret the monastic gardens. They are planted in turns, evolving in experimentation fields, and facilitating a symbiosis between design and live matter. Since there are no traces to speak about the landscape legacy of the monastery, we borrowed the elements found on site - the sheep and the bees are now representative of the island and in general of this region of Norway. As live matter, they are actively employed in the design strategy and they become both actors and users of the imagined space.

As part of the experiment, we used Unity to test and to craft an alternate landscape that transcends time, and where actual natural processes can be simulated and visualized. This method pushed forward a fresh and personal representation from mentors in landscape depiction such as John Tradescant the Elder or Yukiko Suto.


Academic project, 2017

Silvia Diaconu (Firefly Architecture)

Studio "Islands. Images of many natures", fall semester, AHO

Luis Callejas (LCLA Office), Mattias Jossefsson, Kai Reaver

Nominated for RIBA Part 2 President's Medals 2018

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