Two men and a baby

Architect Erik Langdalen and architecture historian Victor Plathe Tschudi refer to the pilgrim farm Budsjord with its 17 listed buildings as their baby.

Text: Sigurd Rønningen Photography: Kristoffer Mæle Thuestad

- “I had neither the dreams nor means to run a place like Budsjord. But now, looking back, I cannot explain why we took so much time to consider it, ” says architect Erik Langdalen.

“This place is so small, fragile and personal, that it is hard to tell whether our visitors are guests or friends”

When Langdalen sits in the farmyard amidst the 17 protected houses, on Dovre’s sunny side, he feels the same as many of his guests: he feels at home. He bought the farm, which is listed as a historic monument, together with architecture historian Victor Plathe Tschudi, five years ago. It has been restored in cooperation with the Norwegian Directorate for Cultural Heritage and the Oppdal County. The result is a pilgrim farm that has become a destination of its own, regardless of the visitors’ religion. As he sits there, a small group of concert guests enter the farmyard. They are there to listen to local folk songs in Nordstuggu, one of the houses on the farm.

-“It’s cultural events like this one that give us most energy. To some extent, they bring together parts of our lives in the city with life here in Dovre, ” says Victor Plahte Tschudi.

-”This may sound nightmarish, but in reality, it is just wonderful: this place is so small, fragile and personal, that it is hard to tell whether our visitors are guests or friends, ” says Langdalen.

HIGHER ENTITY. Are they sleepwalking? Are we witnessing a religious awakening? Have they simply lost their way? These are reasonable questions to ask at this magical morning hour at Budsjord. Guests are slowly appearing in the low doorways. They are still sleepy as they blissfully walk over to the old “stabbur” (now housing the sanitary facilities), in pyjamas.

- Budsjord is asking for something in return. “Guests that stay here for several days become a part of the place and start giving something back, ” says Langdalen. Classical tourist buses looking for quick waffles are not common at Budsjord. Most of the guests arrive on foot, following the pilgrim path. Budsjord welcomes them with food, accommodation and cultural events, lifted up to a higher entity.

-”The beds and the rooms are simple, but we have equipped them with the best mattresses we could find, ” Tschudi comments. The simplest place to sleep is the stable – the stalls have been furnished with beds and the walls are reeking with history.

-”We don’t spend money on marketing. When German pilgrims see these stall beds, tears well up in their eyes. The next thing they do is post a photo on Instagram. ”

Budsjord-Dovre-lite

RICH EXPERIENCES: The pilgrim farm Budsjord offers more than food and lodging – and demands more in return than money. You will leave this place enriched. 

STRONG BELIEFS. Most of the 17 log houses that form the inner and outer farmyard were built during the 18th century. If the exterior could transfer you to another time, there would be no way back once you peek inside the low doorways: you will find doors painted in ox blood, masterly wood carvings and artfully designed hinges thathave been forged here on the farm. Even the interior is surprisingly intact.

- Budsjord is not a tourist business, this place can only function on a personal level. “Our farm is a home that we open during the summer, ” says Langdalen: - Our goal is not to fill the houses with as many people as possible. Our goal is that the guests, and we too, discover balance and tranquillity. 

PERFECT STORM: Almost every log in Budsjord is declared a historical monument. However, the hosts were able to use their expertise in architecture and cultural history, as well as their close cooperation with the Norwegian Directorate for Cultural Heritage (“we have to notify them if we put a nail in the wall”), in order to equip the houses with facilities that present-day wanderers might demand. Underfloor heating. Showers and WC’s. Upcoming: a modern art gallery located in a listed barn. It takes more than alms to carry out a project like this, doesn’t it? -

Luckily, places like Budsjord attract a perfect storm of government fundings, says Tschudi:

- Restoring the farm and opening it for the public, the way we do it here, will hopefully lead to positive outcomes: “Regional development, protection of the buildings through active use, safeguarding of the cultural life, development of international tourism, interreligious dialogue, culture based activities and much more, ” Langdalen continues. Flocks of blissful visitors carrying on toward Dovrefjell indicate that Budsjord is the right place at the right time. Wanderers leave Dovre’s sunny side oasis enriched; what about those two on the farm?

- Keeping and developing a place like Budsjord is both idealism and a lifestyle. The houses are our children.