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‪A growing art and architecture initiative along the roads of Norway

Sunset over Tungeneset picnic area and viewpoint by Code architecture as. — Picture by Hugo Fagermo/Statens vegvesen via AFPSunset over Tungeneset picnic area and viewpoint by Code architecture as. — Picture by Hugo Fagermo/Statens vegvesen via AFPOSLO, Sept 24 — The National Tourist Routes (powered by the Norwegian Public Roads Administration) feature innovative architecture and art installations along 18 selected drives throughout Norway. These attractions pop up at designated points, providing a fresh take on the road trip, with an ambitious network of compelling localised destinations. The latest to open to the public comes from Swiss architect Peter Zumthor.

The development of the National Tourist Routes attractions started in 1993, and as a pilot project in 1998. The objective was, and is, to make Norway a draw for tourists, while celebrating rural vistas and local businesses.

The selected routes highlight diverse landscapes and uniquely regional scenery: coasts and fjords, mountains and waterfalls. The routes are purposeful alternatives to the main roads; the meandering drive is intended to be the crux of the experience.

The architecture dotting these throughways harmonises with the scenery. Functionality is never sacrificed: pragmatic picnic areas, parking, hiking paths, views, information, waste management, and toilet facilities are the means to highlight interesting design choices, materials, and craftsmanship. Longevity and low operation and maintenance costs are key.

Information board about Hardangervidda and Buskerud county at the county border between Buskerud and Hordaland. — Picture by Jarle Wæhler/Statens vegvesen via AFPInformation board about Hardangervidda and Buskerud county at the county border between Buskerud and Hordaland. — Picture by Jarle Wæhler/Statens vegvesen via AFPBoth young architects and well-established figures have been selected for projects, many of them Norwegian; thus far, more than 50 architects, landscape architects and artists have been involved. Examples include Code Arkitektur created an ambitious viewing point with a concrete ramp jutting over the vast Utsikten valley (Gaularfjellet route), while artist Jan Freuchen’s column sculpture intersects a walk (Vevang route).

And this month renowned Swiss architect Peter Zumthor joined the roster, as his design of the Allmannajuvet Zinc Mine Museum in western Norway’s Sauda municipality opened to the public September 8.

The routes are vast. Varanger (160km long) mediates between ocean and sky within a rocky landscape. Senja (102km long) features a changing panorama of fjords, mountains and villages sheltered from the ocean. Lofoten (230km long) is a more established destination with stunning scenery and a vibrant coastal culture, offering various possible detours. Atlanterhavsvegen (36km long) is filled with bridges that connect islets and reefs; the road swivels through coastal scenery along the Hustadvika Bay. Rondane (75km long) covers the accessible borderland between high mountains and unique geology along the first national park in Norway. Hardanger (total length of 158km) has incredible waterfalls and glaciers, with a drive that comprises four sections. Ryfylke (260km long) winds through the borderland between archipelagos and moors, with intermittent access to recreational areas and a popular hiking ground.

The project will continue building its repertoire through 2023, as the National Tourist Routes integrate tourist routes with 250 picnic areas and viewpoints along 2000 kilometres of road. — AFP-Relaxnews

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