Carl-Viggo Hølmebakk, Jarmund Vigsnaes – The National Tourist Route Project

by Anna Willemark and Chloe Adelheim
The National Tourist Route is a project directed by the Norwegian Public Roads Administration and consists of more than 100 architectural installations and projects.
The installations are made by different Norwegian and international offices, all situated along 18 selected, picturesque roads in Norway. The project started in 1993 and will be finished in 2025. It was initiated as a way to make some popular tourist roads more practical and attractive.
The National Tourist Route is somewhat trying to become an international display window for Norwegian architecture, nature and infrastructure and has received a lot of international attention and acclaim. The different projects have made some of the most important tourist attractions safer and more practical to visit. Spectacular viewpoints and installations create a scenery of the landscape.

We have interview Karl Otto Ellefsen and Mari Hvattum, two professors at AHO with different relations to the National Tourist Route.



Karl Otto Ellefsen  

Introduce yourself!
I’m a professor in architecture and urbanism at AHO, researching about urban development. I am also the president of the EAAE (European Association for Architectural Education) and have my own practice.
What’s your relation to the National
Tourist Route?
I have been involved with it since 2000, in
different roles. In the most recent years I have been working closely to the director of the project.
What is Norwegian architecture to you?
Norwegian architecture is many things, but a more interesting question is what the good parts of Norwegian architecture are. I think it is the sensibility to the site and natural conditions and our specific tradition of using material and tectonics. It’s also nice to see that we still have a lot of small offices in the country. I don’t know how long that will exist, but it still does.
Name a project in the National Tourist
Route you like and explain why.
I like the Carl-Viggo Hølmebakk project Sohlbergsplassen. It’s, of all the projects in the National Tourist Route, perhaps the one which best manages landscape narratives, to tell a story.
sohlbergsplassen jörn hagen
Architect: Carl-Viggo Hølmebakk. Photo: Jørn Hagen


Mari Hvattum

Introduce yourself!
I’m a professor in architectural history and theory at AHO. I teach modern history and theory and I also write about these topics.
What’s your relation to the National Tourist Route?
I was a part of the research project Routes, Roads and Landscapes, which focused on how the infrastructure has influenced landscape perception. The National Tourist Route was an important case, continuing a tradition of viewing landscape.
What is Norwegian architecture to you?
I have worked with trying to debunk the myth that Norwegian architecture is particularly close to nature. I think it’s much more, marked by a healthy pragmatism and quirky contextualism; an interest in working with the landscape not as a scenery, but rather something to use as a contrast.
Name a project in the National Tourist
Route you like and explain why.
Viewpoint Nappskaret by Jarmund Vigsnaes Architects does not fetishize the view but makes you interact with it. The railing is supposed to lead to a view but it is actually very unclear were the view is. The installation is a very unglamorous path, with the bright yellow railing contrasting the nature.
nappskaret jarmungvigsnaes
Nappskaret – Architect and photo: Jarmund Vigsnaes​


Anna Willemark & Chloe Adelheim