The learning centre at Utøya is called Hegnhuset, which means “The House That Safeguards.” At its inauguration in 2016, it was internationally recognized as one of the most important new buildings in the world. Young people from all over Norway and many other countries take part in various learning activities in Hegnhuset every year.

Inside Hegnhuset, a new space for learning is constructed surrounding the remaining parts of the old cafeteria building where 13 young people lost their lives on 22 July 2011. This is also the place on the island where the physical traces of the terror attack are most visible. This makes Hegnhuset a unique place for remembrance, learning and engagement.

Symbolic Architecture

Visiting Utøya, you will immediately notice the striking architecture of Hegnhuset. It consists of 69 solid pillars supporting the roof, one pillar for each of the victims who lost their lives. Surrounding these pillars are 495 exterior pillars safeguarding the memory of those who died. Each pillar symbolizes each survivor, those who carry with them the memories and traumas of the terror for the rest of their lives.

The Café Building

Inside Hegnhuset parts of the old assembly hall and cafeteria building is kept intact as it was on 22 July. The new building is constructed in a different angle than the old building, in axis with the other new buildings constructed on Utøya after 2011. This architectural choice accentuates the shift in time before and after 22 July, a new chapter in a long history.


The Messages from the Island

Inside Hegnhuset, in the old corridor of the assembly hall, the narrative of the terror attacks is told by a timeline including text messages sent to and from Utøya this Friday afternoon. The text messages can be read one by one or together as a story about those who were at Utøya, about what happened around the island during the attack, and in relation to events on the landside and in Oslo during the same time. These are first-hand accounts with no filter. These are the words of those who were there at the time.

Democracy Workshop

Extending from the preserved buildings and facing the campsite outside, a new space for teaching and learning has been constructed. The learning centre is set up with three learning stations relating to commemoration, learning and engagement. The aim is to support young people to reflect on what democracy means to them, what challenges to democracy do we face, and how can they actively engage to safeguard and strengthen democracy.

Discussion and dialogue

Through interactive learning activities they develop tools to counter discrimination, hate and anti-democratic actions in society. They collaborate, discuss, and learn from each other to strengthen their engagement for and commitment to democratic values and practices in their everyday life, in their local school or community.

“Hey, hey, time to get up and change the world”!


What do visitors say?

“Learning about democracy at Utøya is an experience I will never forget. I realized how the terror attack of July 22nd was an attack on democratic values and on young people who dedicate themselves to politics and who want to make the world a better place. Having completed the democracy workshop, I feel like I have learned the true meaning of the word "tolerance".
Sandnes Youth Council

Lars Gudmundson, Director of the Learning Center

Lars is the director of the learning center and Utøyas international projects.

Do you have a question for Lars?