A slice of land will be removed from island for Utøya memorial


March 7, 2014

A memorial for the victims of Norway's July 22 terror attack will see a slice of land removed from the Sørbråten headland (Image: Jonas Dahlberg Studio, courtesy of KORO / Public Art Norway)

A memorial for the victims of Norway's July 22 terror attack will see a slice of land removed from the Sørbråten headland (Image: Jonas Dahlberg Studio, courtesy of KORO / Public Art Norway)

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The terror attacks in Norway on July 22, 2011 that resulted in 77 people being killed left the country with a sense of abrupt loss. That feeling will be echoed in a memorial designed by artist Jonas Dahlberg, which will see a slice of land removed from the landscape at Sørbråten.

Dahlberg was selected by a panel as the winner of a contest to design memorials at the two sites of the terror attack, the Government Administration Complex in Oslo and Sørbråten, which is opposite Utøya on the mainland. His design will see a 3.5 m (11.5 ft) wide excavation running from from one side of the headland at the Sørbråten site to the other, and extending below the waterline. It will appear as though the landscape simply stops and then restarts, and will make it impossible to reach the end of the headland.

An excerpt from the jury's evaluation of Dahlberg's design reads, "Jonas Dahlberg’s proposal takes the emptiness and traces of the tragic events of 22 July as its starting point. His suggestion for the Sørbråten site is to make a physical incision into the landscape, which can be seen as a symbolic wound. Part of the headland will be removed and visitors will not be able to touch the names of those killed, as these will be engraved into the wall on the other side of the slice out of nature. The void that is created evokes the sense of sudden loss combined with the long-term missing and remembrance of those who perished."

The earth removed from the excavation at Sørbråten will be transported to Oslo and used to build the foundation of the temporary and subsequent permanent memorials at the Government Administration Complex. The temporary memorial will feature the names of the victims inscribed along the side of a pathway linking the Grubbegata and the Deichmanske Library. The use of excavated land from Sørbråten will provide a poetic link between the two sites. An amphitheater will ultimately be built as the permanent memorial, with trees taken from Sørbråten and replanted as a means of maintaining the link between the memorial sites.

Source: KORO

About the Author
Stu Robarts Stu is a tech writer based in Liverpool, UK. He has previously worked on global digital estate management at Amaze and headed up digital strategy for FACT (Foundation for Art and Creative Technology). He likes cups of tea, bacon sandwiches and RSS feeds. All articles by Stu Robarts

Beautiful, symbolic and poetic.

Keith Lamb

While it may be 'beautiful, symbolic and poetic, it also affects an ecosystem and may prevent fauna from getting to/from food source. Surely there are better ways to honoring the victims of this horrible tragedy than butchering a landscape?

Chris White

I don't think this affects any Fauna. That's sort of ridiculous.


I think that's a very nice monument plan. Build it.

Brian Mcc

Well then, Chris, this memorial will represent the loss and sorrow the friends and families of those killed that day have felt ever since that fateful day. You no like? You no visit.

Noel K Frothingham

I am all for protecting ecosystems and considering effect of human activities to flora and fauna, but the remark of this monument disturbing animals activities is way out of proportion. First of all, Utøya is an island and I would suspect that the local fauna is well accustomed to water separating pieces of land from each other. Secondly, intention is only to separate a tip of a cape from the rest of the island, not to isolate significant populations of any species from each other. Surely the proposed gap itself will not have a meaningful effect on the environment.

As a practical matter, building the monument while leaving its surroundings intact may be difficult.

A totally different aspect of the matter is, whether it is wise to build monuments to commemorate such acts of violence. If the person responsible for the killing sought for attention and wanted to stun the world, one could argue that building an eye-catching monument that stands out of the environment further promotes this purpose.


Building monuments on the sites of terrorist attacks does exactly what the attackers wanted, it changes what they attacked.

The best reaction is to erase any effect the terrorist attack had. The Oklahoma City federal building should have been rebuilt, same with the WTC towers - two of them right on the same spots as the originals. The school in Sandy Hook, that McDonalds in California and all the rest.

Wherever someone does violence the only memorial to the victims should be a discreet plaque. Anything more is effectively a memorial to the people who committed the violent, destructive act.

Gregg Eshelman

I concur with Keith Lamb-Beautiful, symbolic and poetic.


I agree that this is a pretty amazing project and will look spectacular. Maybe it will represent the chunk of people's lives that was removed so heartlessly one day now past.

Whether it's the right memorial not could be argued either way forever. If those affected are happy with it, so be it. It's a shame something so interesting will be used to commemorate something so dark. It's not the sort of thing I'd visit.


Gregg Eshelman has the essence, but misses the heart.

People are incapable of not reacting to any highly emotionally charged event.

A fact which is exacerbated when the governments and media spend months shouting "This changes EVERYTHING!" ensuring that it would, in fact, change things.

Few countries or individuals could have reacted in as civilized a fashion to such an attack. In the USA it would (and to a lessor extent did,) turn into a major argument about weapons and mental illness & event he wisdom of allowing children in the woods!

9/11 Was indeed a tragedy--in one event terrorists killed as many people as they had world-wide in the previous decade.

But in no way did it make any real changes in our security until our government used it as an excuse to reduce our freedoms drastically (even though they have yet, to my knowledge, horribly abused the new 'power' the government claimed.)

The exact question of who and how the events of that day went down are unlikely to be known for certain any time soon...though perhaps in 50 years or so when people die they may leave clues. Or may not. The bulk of espionage tales from WWII have died with those who were involved.

The OK city building was a poor design and rebuilding it would have been a mistake--regardless of the bombing.

Charles Barnard
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