Next day we check out and back on the road. Today we hit the first National tourist route. This is ultimately what my trip is for. These routes, of which there are 18, were designated in early 2000s by the Norwegian Public Roads Administration for there historic and/or scenic significance and have been the sites of many architecture commissions to improve them. These projects are some of the most widely published architects projects coming out of Norway, some of which I had known about for some time, but I only more recently understood that they are all connected. An architecture board that ensures a high caliber of design is maintained in the designs, to the extent that commissions have been known to be cancelled if the proposal wasn't deemed innovate enough.
The first route we hit is titled Rondane. We drove north from Lillehammer for some time before pulling off the main highway to start ascending a mountain. The road to the route was actually terrifying as it was two-way undivided road with numerous twists and turns along a narrow winding road .. also no visibility around corners due to the dense woods.. also the speed limit was 80! At us going 40 this all seemed too fast and we had to pull over several times to let the more experienced Norwegians pass us who no doubt felt annoyed by our white-knuckles slow pace. However once we reached the top of the mountain the official start of the route it was like we were on another planet. The road up felt like parts of BC and was very lush with its tall trees. The route itself was more vast and barren and entirely covered in lichen, moss and the occasional shrubbery. Sheeps walking around, and the occasional cabin with traditional sod roofs. We stopped a few times to walk around and grab some photos. Encountered some hikers and nature enthusiasts around the mountain Muen. The road was fairly quiet and those who were around definitely were not the selfie-stick variety of tourists. We continued along the route before descending somewhat down a mountain and reaching the first architectural stop.
The first stop is called Atnbrufossen Vannbruksmuseum and is a small gallery addition onto a old lumber mill. Just adjacent to a bit of waterfall with water troughs pulling water in to power the mill. This building is relatively modest with large views into the fall. The walls and roof are built with CLT panels, as the gable roof is seen to be unsupported by any beams or joists. a small linear display case is illuminated by skylight off the side of the building and the space is only warmed by a small wood fired stove. A old boat is suspended up in the ceiling space and art by a local artist is on displays. The attendant had two friendly dogs inside that began to singing and howling. The large windows against the river were amazing and felt like you were right at it, yet it adequately muted the noise of the falls. Two locals were enjoying fishing off rivers edge as we took photos against he water.
We then continued on our way and started to get into more forested areas as the rain started pick up. Our next stop is further up a road and that divides farmland to the east and Rondane national park to the west. The stop is an outdoor viewing platform into the Rondane national park by architect Carl-Viggo Hølmebakk called Sohlbergplassen. This is one painting locations of the Norwegian artists, Harald Sohlberg, creating the "Vinternatti I Fjeldene" in 1949 (click the name to see painting).
The platform is elevated concrete with curved walls that weave around the trees ensuring none were disturbed, with a mix of concrete and steel grating floors to allow the underbrush to still receive light and water. A small stair allows you to descent below if it you we to go for a hike. But below you can see all the structure is held up on small steel pilotis that are varying angles that hit the rocky ground as unobtrusively as possible. Dakota remarked on how the Verona board forms used to create the concrete left the distinct patterns of wood grain in the cast-in-place-concrete. It provided a great view across the river to the mountain range that would not otherwise be possible from the road. The rain started to really pick up so we headed back to the car.
Further along we hit the Rondane tourist centre by the same architect, Carl-Viggo Hølmebakk,. Here concrete is used again, with a sloping green roof that goes up to a viewing platform above. This building is set along the river we were looking down into earlier and there is a pedestrian suspension bridge to start a hike into the park. The building has curved walls inside that have benches lining them to view the water from. These curved concrete benches are somewhat a motif as they line parts of the parking lot as picnic tables and are also found deeper into the woods. Dakota said she didn't like the concrete outside but enjoyed the view from inside the information centre as the rain continue on. But all-in-all she said it was totalitarian feeing, but did think it worked for the previous viewing platform. We did a small walk out onto the bridge.. but with the rain we didn't venture to far into the walk.
We make a brief stop at Folldal Gruver, a mine that was in operation fro 1748-1993. We didn’t visit the museum aspect of the mine, only making a brief stop to lookout from above, being positioned up on a hilltop. The landscaping of the parking area was done by Landskapsfabrikken ASW which is all done in corten steel, such as the curb edges, a staircase to the mine entry, and signage. We grabbed a coffee at the cafe of the museum before heading on as we didn’t have time check out the museum, but briefly enjoyed the pause of the rain.
Continuing on the skies are getting pretty dark and stormy. We aren't really complaining because it is very dramatic looking against the landscape we are driving through. Our last stop on the drive is not commissioned by the Tourist Route but it is thematically similar and requires a small hike up a mountain. The project is called Viewpoint Snøhetta by the office Snøhetta, and looks out at the mountain from which they have named themselves after. I suppose no other firm would be as appropriate for the commission! We had to wait for the storm to die down before starting on the hike, and it took about half an hour. The mountain it is on has an old mine below it which closed in 1993 as well. There was a proposal to use the inside as a hazardous waste storage location but protests prevented that plan from moving forward. The hike up was advertised as wheel chair friendly. We have no idea how that makes any sense. Along the way there are granite stones that tell the history of the site in Norwegian. We copied the text but have yet to translate.
The Viewpoint itself is small box of a building with the shell made of Corten steel (steel that deliberately rusts) that has a free formed wooden infill that is carved by a CNC router from heavy timber. One sides portion is facing out to the way in and other interior looking out over the mountain range. The area beyond is the site of a disused artillery testing range. Since then there have been efforts to re-plant the barren landscape to what it once as. The view from inside was a nice break after our ascent and we enjoyed the view while listening to the sound of rain on the roof and what was left of the embers inside the ceiling suspended fireplace. Because we arrived as it was storming most people had since left and no one was immediately behind us so we had the place to ourselves for a while. As we planned to head back the storm picked up again so we waited it out with a few others.
Heading back down we then headed to our accommodations which is really the only thing in the area and has been around some time and very traditional with sods roofs. We got a bit of a small cabin there, and played some cards and ate left over pizza while resting our feet. Dakota was terrified of all the troll memorabilia and statues that adorned the site. We wandered the area a bit where there is an old bridge.. which Dakota said meant crossing will cause a troll to eat us.