Norway National Tourist Route
Norway. 70ºN Arkitektur, Helen & Hard Architects, Jensen & Skodvin
The client of this particular project was the Norwegian Public Roads Administration (NPRA) commissioned by the Norwegian Parliament and Government. The project takes place linearly along the western coast of Norway. Framework and investment plannings started in 1994 whereas actual construction only begun in 2005. The intention was to expose and introduce Norway’s breath-taking natural landscape by developing a series of stop-points along the routes.
In these three design projects, the approach was to maintain the site as original as possible. Minimal changes were made to the topography and nature of the site. Instead, the designers designed to adapt to the environment rather than the environment adapt to their design. Another way to reduce site activity is to introduce small-scaled interventions instead of massive construction work because small structures require less material and energy to build.
The main theme of the program for these three design projects is for users to enjoy and appreciate their natural surroundings. The architects incorporated ‘views’ and environmental activities as part of the design in attempt to raise the sensitivity and awareness of the public towards the environment.
Challenges and Opportunities
The National Tourist Route Project could potentially be a new design model for other countries and regions in promoting environmental awareness and sustainability. Also, a whole new range of environmentally friendly materials and building construction methods could be introduced. Since these individual tourists’ attraction hubs are sited along major highway routes, people usually stop for a short period of time, making their stay not permanent. Future installations could also explore this idea of impermanence by using mobile structures.
Bike shed/Meditation room
70ºN Arkitektur, Austvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norge, 2005
The main idea for the bike shed is to provide a rest house for cyclists and hikers who pass by the route. The space also serves as a refuge from harsh weathers. Due to the lengthy outer edge of Austvågøy, the location of the bike shed serves as a mid-point of the alternative bicycle route towards Euroroute 10. The orientation of the shed overlooks the northwards view towards Vesterålen islands and a southwards view towards the mountains without any obstructions.
Users can park their bicycles as they enter the shed. The preparation space for users to prepare simple food is protected from harsh weather. As users proceed to the upper level, a stripped window facade allow users to rest and meditate at the same time be intact with nature by having a panoramic view of their surroundings.
The shed is of load-bearing steel framework combined with timber clad finish. The choice of construction and finishes creates intimate spaces and the opportunity to have a full glass facade within the cosy bicycle shed.
Pulpit Rock Base Camp
Helen & Hard, Prekestolen, Norge, 2009
In conjunction to raising the youths’ awareness towards the environment, drawing them closer to nature, the Stavenger Trekking Association commissioned three base camps. By taking sustainability into consideration, the structure accommodating 12-15 people can be dismantled, therefore reducing the impact on land and soil.
The circulation of the base camp is designed for users to gear-up their five senses to experience different aspects of nature during their journey that oversees hanging tree tents (a five-level structure of steel cables covered in mimetic fabric anchored to the Mountain Wall) connected by overhead walkways (Tree Camp) and a series of hammock strung up on a covered wharf on the seashore (Water Camp).
Jensen & Skodvin, Burtigard, Gudbrandsjuvet, Norge, 2004-2008
The landscape hotel is situated within a site where several interventions have been carried out by the Norwegian Public Roads. One of the significant interventions is two panoramic routes designed by Jensen & Skodvin.
The massing of this particular design is in small, independent geometries as hotel rooms built elevated from the ground. The unpredictable topography and contour lines influence the design in a way that not one room faces another.
Each hotel room is an individual unit that stands alone by itself. Within these units, either one or two facades are designed as full-height glass walls to let users enjoy the panoramic views of their surroundings, offering them “the illusion of being alone, and completely immersed in nature”. The views they experience often vary depending on the season, weather and time of the day.