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a place for contemplation in Bergen

diploma program, nicolay r. nicolaysen & kim d. kendel, bergen school of architecture spring 2012

background: “Our contemporary condition is often described as post modern; a time often characterized as the collapse of modernism’s optimism, accompanied by a radical destabilization of much of the normal sense of rootedness in place, tradition, and conviction.” Robert Thurman

To find meaning man has traditionally turned to religion. Today the multicultural condition of post-modern cities has created a diversified religious urban landscape. The influence from other cultures in a shrinking world has also created an amalgation of religions and traditions in the form of ‘new age’ life-styles. This condition can be seen as a reaction to post-modern socieity’s expectation of human endavour of high goals and sucess, that ultimately becomes an ephemeral and superficial way of excisting. Man needs something endouring to relate to. A kind of meaning that secures “ones place in a greater whole”.

“All the worlds religious belief systems contain a contemplative tradition” Rebecca Krinke

Nature has always provided an environment capable of inititating contemplation and retreat from the hectic life of a city. (if considered a mode of afterthought and reflection). Religous buildings has traditionally provided such potential in our built environment. As the importance of religion declines in a secularized society, for many the routine of visiting such contemplative spaces disappear. The contact with such spaces may be important in promoting a reflective and meditative state (that is necessary in searching for existential meaning and an understanding of ones placement in this world.)

bergen Bergen is a typically western european city with an “urban� oriented population. It is a small city compared to the metropols of today. Still its population is growing, and in the coming years Bergen will experience a rapid growth. About 46% of the population-growth comes from immigrants, hence the cultural diversity will increase. Bergen has obvious contemplative qualities in the form of a nearby surrounding nature. This however implies certain modes of contemplation. How can an urban contemplative typology facilitate other kinds of contemplation, and complement existing typologies such as religious retreats and nature, also attracting other segments of the population that don’t have a close relation to such places.

weather The Weather is perhaps one of the strongest common references we have, and few places are as connected to the weather as Bergen, The element of water beeing beeing of special importance in the Bergen identity. The Climate and the weather have through times been important denominators for the creation of societies and culture. This perspective is today lesser visible in our more technologically advanced/oriented society, and may point to fundamental factors in our existence that we now are about to change. Creating a meaningful place may be connected to the manifestation of a common consciousness, and an interaction with weather may have such a potential.


The project aims at investigating what a contemplative typology can be in the city of Bergen today. The planning and design of an urban building will be a humble attempt on generating [some kind of] meaningful space in a postmodern society. A space relevant for both non-believers as well as belivers.


- establish an operative understanding of the term ‘contemplation’ as a basis for further investigations. - research and look at places for [aspects of] contemplation in nature and architecture - look at contemplative practises [programmatic implications of contemplation] - find sites in Bergen that can benefit/challenge a contemplative program - investigate what contemplation can be in a contemporary urban culture - attempt to define/develop a contemplative typology in Bergen programatically and through the design of a building/structure/space.

timeline: february


diploma-program/ begrepsavklaring






“what I want to do” develop program find site/situasjonsgrep develop project options “how I want to do it” developing/finalizing final project presentation

grafic work



levering ferdig diplomprogram


innlevering prosjekt



exhibition konfrontasjon

konfrontasjon - sosant/konseptmodell

program levering







“...a range of ideas about contemplation - creating a description along a continuum from the veryday activity of fixed attention [...] to an experience of the trancendental” Rebecca Krinke

“...essentially an interior process independent of particular setting?” Marc Treib

“ activity that deepens our involvement with the world.” Rebecca Krinke

“ view or consider with continued attention” Mirriam Webster Dictionary

“ consider thoroughly; think fully or deeply about” wikipedia

“...a deliberate attention, implying concentration on ideas/objects/places outside our day to day thought.” Rebecca Krinke

contemplative architecture

Architecture has always played an important role in creating a contemplative realm. What constitutes such a realm? Is it simply a place to relax and seclude oneself, or is it an environment that promotes new insights to emerge? Does the design imply auditory silence or a reductive design vocabulary? Does different understandings of nature and culture affect the design of such spaces, and are there specific aspects of design that are culturally independent that contributes to a contemplative space?




cultivated nature

contemplative practices

Contemplative practices understood as a acts that promote a contemplative mindset comes in many forms. A common feature could be that they quiet the mind to increase a personal capacity for both consentration and insight. All major religious traditions contain various kinds of contemplative practices like meditation, prayer or seclution. Some of these remain within a religious domain but some has grown into secular settings. At the same time there is a range of contemplative practices from the sacred to that of daily routines, some are done in solitude, others in groups. Either way, an investigative attitude towards such practices can broaden our understanding of what contemplation could be.





cv master courses: (Note: This is a common cv for both candidates)

fall 2010: Complex Context, fragility and the art of building.

Teachers: Arild Waage, Kalle Grude, Andre Fontes, Camilla Ryhl Site: Palermo, Italy Project Nicolaysen: “clean sheets”, dance-school Project Kendel: “inside-out”, self driven rehearsal spaces

spring 2011: Remote- here and elsewhere

Teachers: Thomas Wiesner, Andrea Spreafico Site: School premises, Skjolden

fall 2011: Complex Context -diversified solutions

Teachers: Arild Waage, Kalle Grude, Andre Fontes, Harald Røstvik Site: La Tourette, Eveux, France Project: The preparatorium, transition/supportive building for the convent

references Images: http-// http-// http-// http-// http-// Litterature: Contemporary Landscapes of Contemplation, Krinke, Rebecca (ed.), Routledge 2005

diplomprogram nicolay kim  

diplomaprogram nicolay and kim bas 2012