Some Facts abort the Project and Process…
The site is above Aurland, a small town in Sogn og Fjordane, one of the larger fjords on the West Coast of Norway. Aurland is three hours drive from Bergen, Norway’s second largest city. The architects were one of three architecture firms invited to deliver a design proposal for this site. After winning we worked on detail drawings for the project together with Node Engineers, Bergen. The project was built in Fall 2005 and was officially opened in June 2006. The place has attracted people from all over the world. We called our competition entry «640m over Aurland and 20120 km from Tokyo», keeping in mind the uniqueness of the place in the bigger picture.
The Place – the nature
Nature first and architecture second was the guiding principal when we sat down to design this project. It was immediately obvious to us that in such beautiful surroundings one must make the least possible encroachment in the existing landscape and terrain. The landscape is so fantastic that it is difficult to improve the place, but at the same time very easy to destroy the atmosphere by inserting too many elements into the site. Even though we have chosen an expressive form, the concept is a form of minimalism, in an attempt to conserve and complement the existing nature.
Today there are many people stopping at this site to enjoy the phenomenal views over the fjords. At times the areas gets filled with cars and tour busses. One of the first things we decided to do was to form a small parking area for 2 buses and 10 cars further up the road to help keep the place pure and not to disturb the look out. The construction is a bridge that one can go out onto, as a structure in the air. The structure is 4 m wide, 30 long, and 9m high out at the very end.
The Horizon and Dramatization
To make the situation even more dramatic it was important for us to create the experience of leaving the mountainside. We wanted people to come out in the air. The construction creates a distinct horizon; a bridge in the open room of this large fjord. It is imperative that the landscape and the vegetation not altered, but are protected so that one came come out from the landscape and experience it from new standpoint.
The architects have managed to behold all of the large pine trees on the site. This allows us to create an interaction between the structure and nature. One can walk out into the air through the treetops, helping dramatize the experience of nature and the larger landscape room.
The ramp is constructed with load-bearing galvanized steel, and then covered with environmental pressure treated pine. The load-bearing system is two parallel frames with a rectangular section. There are seven steel sections to make the on-site construction easier. The cross-section has been chosen to take in consideration and are 300m wide and 1100 high, while the the ”legs” of the ramp are a smaller at 300mm x 800mm. The most tension is in the curve of the ramp. A framework in the floor of the ramp criss-crosses from this point all the way to the foundation in the road. The floor of the ramp has an inner construction of steel trusses with a center distance of 1m.
The floor of the ramp is 65mm massive wood, placed with a small fall to each side of the ramp. The floor is screwed from the underside to the steel frame. The ”rails” on the edge of the ramp are covered with 65mm of laminated wood. The wooden joins on the side of the rails are semi-circle joints that make the joins less visible from a distance. The underside of the ramp is coved in open wooden slats.
The ramps has two concrete foundations. The upper foundation deals with most of the side forces from the wind. This foundation is made as a lying ”U” , and nine long tension bolts are fastended to the mountain in go under the road and are fastened with bolts. The second, and lower foundation, is the foundation for the ”legs” of the ramp. This foundation is bolted in two places to the mountain-side.
The WC building is constructed of place-formed concrete that form the floor, side-walls, and roof. The concrete is then covered with ”elite-Crete” to give a black coating of rubber-like surface. The end-walls are 65mm solid wood. The end wall towards the fjords are mostly glass.Location: Aurland, Norway Architects: Saunders Architecture & Wilhelmsen Arkitektur Architect team members: Todd Saunders & Tommie Wilhelmsen
Client: The Norwegian Highways Department (Statens Vegvesen)
Design Competition: October 2002
Structural: Node AS, Bergen
Mechanical: Node AS, Bergen
Electrical: Node AS, Bergen
Landscape: Todd Saunders & Tommie Wilhelmsen
Interiors: Todd Saunders & Tommie Wilhelmsen
Contractor: Veidekke AS, Sogndal
Other specialist consultants: Asplan Viak, road engineers
Photographer: Todd Saunders
Size of the ramp L x W x H = 33,6m x 4,2m x 13,5m