On the island of Tautra in the Trondheim Fjord lies a new convent for eighteen nuns. It contains a small church and all the necessary facilities for the nuns’ life and work. The clients are nuns from various countries, all members of the Cistercian order, who have gathered to realise the vision of creating a new convent precisely here. The ruins of an earlier Cistercian convent, founded in 1207, already lie elsewhere on the island.
An important aspect of the convent as an institution is the nuns’ contemplative life. This has had consequences for the architecture. One of the first ideas was to create a low building with a number of gardens that would provide light and create a feeling of seclusion while at the same time opening up the magnificent view across the fjord. Through the glass wall of the refectory, they have a view of the sea and the mountains behind. The convent functions in such a way that, when one of the main rooms is in use, all of the nuns are usually gathered there. The remaining rooms can then be used as passageways. Most of the rooms occur only once in the plan, and have to fulfil a variety of requirements. A system of rooms with overlapping corners together form seven separate enclosed gardens. Modules are almost only reiterated in the plan when rooms have the same function, such as the private cells. Owing to the varying room sizes, this has resulted in a rather complex plan.
The main structure of the building is of laminated spruce, framed in with laminated timber beams. The covering of Norwegian slates functions rather like a raincoat. The nuns have been active clients, and have planned several parts of the convent themselves, including the landscaping and fencing around the property as well as the design of the seven gardens. This has been done with the help of specialist craftsmen and people from the local parish.