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Trollspotting, the end pieces.

An exerpt from Trollspotting, Jonathan French’s Valle blog…

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.christmas inflatables canada

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  full of all sorts of monkeying around): http://overgadenovenvandet.wordpress.com/

To Lofoten!

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.

Grunnfør – Architects: 70˚ Nord – Gisle Løkken, completed 2005.  Program: Cyclist Shelter.

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.

Gimsøystraumen – Architects: Jarmund/Vigsnæs AS, completed 2007.  Program: rest area, WC, youth/community center.

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.

Gårdsvatnet - Architects: 70˚ Nord – Gisle Løkken.  Program: bird watching tower.

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.

Torvdalshalsen – Architect: Architects: 70˚ Nord – Gisle Løkken, completed 2005.  Program: Rest Area – parking, picnic benches, wall.

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.

Graduate student Jonathan French is in Norway to study the National Tourist Routes.  A project commissioned by the National Assembly, the National Tourist Routes are 18 designated stretches of scenic highway developed to promote tourism in rural communities.  The tourist routes utilize architecture, landscape architecture, and art to transform sites along each route into destinations in and of themselves, promoting excellent design and beautiful landscapes as a reasons to travel to Norway.  Viewed as a whole, the projects engage design, landscape, movement and cultural history in a manner that stitches together a contemporary expression of Norwegian national identity.

To keep up on Jonathan’s personal blog, visit : http://trollspotting.wordpress.com
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