Wow – blink and an entire month has past since the last time I posted to the blog. To quote current events back in the US – “Ooops.” The last month has been a busy one – filled with a couple conferences and work on my thesis project – however, a post on architecture lectures and readings is not interesting, so it’s back to the roads and the next stop on the tourist routes: Lofoten.
If anyone from UW is still reading this blog, you’ll recognize a friendly face. Fellow Valle Scholar Lauren Keene joined me for a few days, driving from Lofoten down to Trondheim together. If you haven’t seen Lauren’s blog, check it out (it’s better than mine and full of all sorts of monkeying around): http://overgadenovenvandet.wordpress.com/
Lofoten is known for steep craggy mountains rising out of the sea, small fishing villages, and stockfish (dried salted cod). It’s a popular tourist destination during the summer, and is currently the most complete National Tourist Route with 11 different sites. The projects demonstrate a range of program and “built” interventions. Here are some of the highlights.
An outpost of the Tourist Route that provides infrastructure for cyclists following the alternate route to the heavily trafficked E10. Standing in a field just above a rocky beach, the cyclists shelter is over 200 meters off the road. The landscape is open and expansive. The building provides enclosed shelter and an elevated vantage point for looking out at the mountains, field, shoreline, the Norwegian Sea, and the horizon. In contrast to the majority of the tourist routes projects, which draw visitors out of a car, the cyclists shelter draws one in before redirecting the view back onto its surroundings. The interior space is sub-divided by structural walls which carry the roof and allow for the 360˚ windows at the upper level, and create a variety of seating options with different vantage points.
A joint project between Statens Vegvesen and a local community group, the Dønning Community Center has distinct functions and seasons of use. During the summer months, tourists have access to the restrooms, parking, and picnic tables at the site, while the community room, cafe, and stage are available year round for use by the local social groups and as a rental space. The building form is inspired by large boulders left behind by receding glaciers – and appears solid except for two open facades and a dormer that allow access and light into the building. A practical and pragmatic project, the building provides necessary services to tourists, but its primary users are the locals who live in near by villages. Side note: the coolest RV of the trip – an old yellow Mercedes-Benz that belonged to
Gårdsvatnet (and it’s twin a little further down the road at Storeidvatnet) shares some basic similarities with Grunnfør – same architect, same 2 story rectangular wooden box. Instead of panoramic windows, there are 2m high panel doors that open up to give birders and unobstructed view of lake and surrounding wetlands. Unfortunately, the structure and use of space within the building are not nearly as interesting as at Grunnfør.
Anybody else picking up on a pattern? Yes, this is one of 4 projects by Gisle Løkken. At Torvdalshalsen, Løkken plays with the spacing of small (2cm x 2cm) pieces of standardized lumber, creating wind breaks, terraced decks, and picnic nooks of varying porosity. The project is oriented towards the south – maximizing exposure to the sunlight and providing shelter from the prevailing breezes. In a part of the world where the sun doesn’t rise for over 30 straight days during winter, soaking up the summer sun is serious business. The wind break also separates the seating areas from the parking lot – greatly improving the aesthetic quality of the project.
The project at Eggum is built into a hill immediately below the ruins of a German radar station from WWII. Snøhetta excavated a circular courtyard into the hillside below the former radar station, creating an amphitheater of sorts. The kiosk and restrooms are housed in a rectangular volume made of concrete and wrapped in wood that is inserted into the side of the hill. Digging down in to the ground creates a space that is protected from the wind. The ruins of the radar station draw people up the hillside and stirsthe imagination. There is only one small sign explaining the history of the building, which is otherwise open to exploration and wonder – adding a layer of interaction and performance to that contrasts the horizontality of the horizon with the height of the surrounding mountains, and the clean modernism of the kiosk with the ruins of the radar station.
One of the first projects completed in Lofoten, Jarmund/Vigsnæs constructed a stairway and bright yellow railing leading to a view point overlooking a small valley. The project uses color as a sign to signal the location of the project from the road. A minimalist intervention by definition, the project capitalizes on the brightly colored railing to draw visitors up the hill. The view is good, but it’s not great. It’s almost as though Jarmund/Vigsnæs is commenting on the passive consumption of tourism, which leads people to sights without requiring any critical thought or observation of the landscape.
Developed in two stages, the project was initially a turn off with concrete terrace, concrete tables, and polished stone benches, designed by Inge Dahlman. Manthey Kula later added the WC/Service building. Utilizing both corten steel and stainless steel, the weathering of the materials registers differently across the surfaces of the building, marking the passage of time. The all steel and glass structure also resonates and amplifies the slamming of the doors at painfully loud volumes. From the interior the large glass windows, which look out at the sky and the far horizon create an visual effect similar to James Turrell’s Sky Spaces. The project is sited halfway between the ocean and a curving wall of mountain faces, directing the view out to sea and back to the bare rock of the mountains.