I traveled to Norway on a Centerbrook travel grant in July of 2013. If you were reading this in 2013, you’d be thinking: Why Norway? At the time it wasn’t quite yet the hip destination and blossoming cultural icon it is today. I chose Norway for 3 reasons: (1) Centerbrook has been awarding travel grants for a long time and doesn’t like repeats –nobody had been to Norway. (2) I’m not an architect, so knowing when I returned I had to spend an hour talking about architecture in front of 60 of them, I wanted to make sure I knew more about my subject than they did. (3) Fjords.
Since the late nineties the Norwegian government has been investing in tourism and the infrastructure of tourism. Norway is known for its breathtaking views, but no money was ever really spent on making these places accessible. The sites evolved on their own from a steady flow of visitors stopping at the best spots. The country didn’t need to attract visitors, but it did want to direct the flow of those visitors in order to protect the sites –their treasured natural resource.
The concern was bringing order to the best sites and the facilities to allow anyone to enjoy them. The Trollstigen summit, for example, was littered with small huts selling trinkets. Paths had developed from the road to lookout points, but there were many and the sensitive landscape was being trampled by the foot traffic. Building a permanent facility and elevated paths allowed them to protect the landscape and help direct foot traffic.
Below are links to photos I’ve taken on the tourist routes and a few other examples of recent Norwegian architecture: