Gjende stage 2: Service building with café and toilet facilities. Illustration: Knut Hjeltnes sivilarkitekter

Over 30 years, the Norwegian Public Roads Administration (NPRA) has been developing and enhancing eighteen selected drives through the most beautiful and diverse of Norwegian landscapes. Innovative architecture along the roads in the form of rest areas, viewing platforms and service buildings, in combination with thought-provoking art, inspires and enthrals travellers from home and abroad. Facilitating tourists travel by car on scenic routes from Jæren in the south to Varanger in the north contributes to value creation in the tourism industry, in line with the purpose of the initiative.

In the 2024 season, the Norwegian Public Roads Administration will be completing a multi-year upgrading process involving three iconic tourist attractions: Torghatten, Gjende and Vøringsfossen. Further openings will take place along Norwegian Scenic Routes Sognefjellet, Lofoten and Varanger.

Torghatten, Helgelandskysten

Service building, parking, trails, steps and rockfall protection.
Service building, parking, trails, steps and rockfall protection. Illustration: Atelier Oslo Sivilarkitekter MNAL

The spectacular hole in Torghatten resembles as a mighty cathedral. It is 41 metres high, 166 metres long and 18 metres wide. The NPRA is developing the Torghatten area further in cooperation with Brønnøysund municipality and with support from Nordland county administration. The upgrade will include a new architect-designed service building in wood and glass with toilet facilities, information and exhibitions, and with ceiling beams that filter the daylight and provide a varied play of shadows.

The building forms a natural starting point for a walk up to and through the hole, on specially prepared sherpa trails and steps. From there, a nature trail and a universally accessible path along Sørfjæra lead back to the car park. Necessary rockfall protection has been carried out, along with rerouting of trails to avoid areas exposed to rockslides, and a new car park with good capacity has been established. Architect: Atelier Oslo. Landscape architect: Østengen & Bergo AS. Planned to open in June.

Gjende, Valdresflye

Service building with café with a view to la lake and mountains.
Gjende stage 2: Service building with café and toilet facilities. Illustration: Knut Hjeltnes sivilarkitekter

Gjendeosen is a busy meeting place at the gateway to Jotunheimen National Park. Here the NPRA is completing the Scenic Route facility at Gjende with a new 350 km2 service building made of wood and glass, containing a kiosk, café and toilet facilities. The surrounding outdoor areas are being developed simply and aesthetically, and a landscape room with scars has been carefully reestablished over many years.

With the new building, the NPRA is completing its multi-year project to give Reinsvangen/Gjende the boost needed to make it a complete national tourist facility, which includes a new concrete quay, a service building with a roof-covered bench for travellers waiting for the Gjende boats, as well as technical rooms for operating the ferry boats. At Reinsvangen, the existing car park has been significantly expanded. A new service building has been built, with toilets and technical rooms, as well as a seating bench for travellers waiting for shuttle buses and roof-covered bicycle parking for rental bikes. Architect: Knut Hjeltnes sivilarkitekter MNAL AS. Planned to open in June.

Vøringssfossen, Hardangervidda

Viewing platforms in steal and path.
Stage 3, Fossatromma: Viewing platforms, path and toilet facilities. Photo: Frid-Jorunn Stabell, Statens vegvesen

Vøringsfossen is perhaps the most famous waterfall in Norway. Vast quantities of water here plunge 182 metres down from the Hardangervidda plateau to the Måbødalen valley. After developing the Vøringsfossen waterfall in two previous construction stages, the NPRA is supplementing the attraction this year with a large car park, public toilet facilities, viewpoints and landscaping work at Fossatromma.

In the summer of 2022, tourists will be able to experience Vøringsfossen waterfall and Måbødalen valley from new perspectives on safe viewing platforms and paths also at Fossetromma, and the walk from Fossli across the step bridge to the Fossetromma viewpoint will be complete. This facility will be supplemented with toilet facilities of the same standard and capacity as those at Fossli by the end of autumn 2024. Architect: Carl-Viggo Hølmebakk AS. Planned to open in September.

Liasanden, Sognefjellet

Upgraded service building, new rest area furniture and two cyclists’ shelters.
Opening new: Upgraded service building, new rest area furniture and two cyclists’ shelters. Photo: Werner Harstad, Statens vegvesen

Liasanden has been closed for a couple of years for the restoration of toilets, new outdoor areas with seating and improved facilities for cyclists in the form of two shelters. The rest area has been popular since it was opened in 1997 and thus subject to many visitors and a lot of camping, wearing it down and causing damage to roots and undergrowth. As an environmental protection measure, the NPRA is closing the forest to car traffic, referring visitors to the communal parking on the east side, from where they can easily walk into the recreation area.

The upgraded rest area will have new wooden benches and two roofed shelters that offer protection from wind and weather. The architect-designed toilets from 1997 will be upgraded but maintain their original design as monuments of time. Newly established vegetation will still be fragile and it may be necessary to cordon off some areas throughout the season. Architect: Jensen & Skodvin Arkitekter AS. Planned to open in June.

Hamningberg, Varanger

Two service buildings with toilet facilities, upgrading of car park.
Two service buildings with toilet facilities, upgrading of car park. Illustration: KAP – Kontor for Arkitektur og Plan AS

Along Varangerfjorden the NPRA has developed a series of bird hides in places where Arctic birds gather and stay. Furthest to the north and east is Hamningberg, where a large increase in visiting birdwatchers and other interested parties has created a need for better rest facilities. The NPRA is building two toilets and a new parking area. The toilet buildings are made of horizontal timber logs, with hats that catch the light and reflect the surroundings. The large parking area is divided into smaller zones, with sheltered fire sites for motorhome tourists and others. Architect: KAP – Kontor for Arkitektur og Plan AS. Planned to open in September.

Hauklandstranda, Lofoten

Café and service building, parking and trails, surrounded by mountains and sea.
Café and service building, parking and trails. Illustration: Arne Henriksen Arkitekter AS

Hauklandstranda has long been used as a recreation area and swimming spot at Vestvågøy. The large landscape room includes a small grassy ridge just southwest of the parking area on Uttakleivveien. From this height there is a magnificent view of the beach, the open sea and the mountains in the southwest. The new service building thus crowns the ridge and extends towards both the parking area and the view. The rectangular shape of the building includes a terrace, a café and kitchen functions to the west and changing rooms for wetsuit rental to the east. At the end, towards the parking area, is the toilet facility.

The outer wall of the café room has an upper part where light enters through slits, while the lower part is an open glass solution. The purpose is to give the café room a special character of both intimacy and outward view. The building has an outer wooden cladding of untreated ore-pine that will have dull colour, eventually turning grey. The existing car park has been extended to the south and mostly follows the natural terrain by sloping slightly to the north and flattening out to the south. Architect: Arne Henriksen Arkitekter AS. Planned to be completed in December.