A gateway to the land of the Jötnar

The gateway is a pilot project under the Norwegian Environment Agency and the National Park Board for Jötunheimr and the Utla valley, where the goal is to make the Jötunheimr National Park more accessible.

Located in the Scandinavian mountain range, which with its 1300 kilometers is Europe’s longest mountain range, and close to Northern Europe’s highest mountain, “Galdhøpiggen”, the gateway is just off the Sognefjell road, the highest mountain crossing in northern Europe. Some of the most magnificent Norwegian mountains and glaciers can be seen from here.

This is a highly vulnerable mountain landscape, where the tallest shrub – dwarf willow – Salix herbacea – at the same time is the world’s smallest tree with its 1-5 cm in height, and the summer season is sometimes so short that it is absent.

The project is a low-threshold offer for everyone to be able to experience the high-mountain nature up close – regardless of physical skills and hiking equipment. A hiking trail based on the principles of universal design starts at the mountain hut “Sognefjellshytta” and forms a trail of about 1 km around a small lake, “Fantesteinsvatnet” – “The Gypsy Stone Lake”.  The trail is built of short-distance gravel and stone from the site and is adapted to the terrain in the gentlest way possible to prevent wounds in the terrain. All humus has been reused, so that the local creeping vegetation can be used for revegetation. Every stone is manually put down again with the moss- and lichens-covered side upwards.

In some parts of the trail there was need for some constructions: Above the lake there is a bridge built of a corten steel plate of 1.9 m width, 50 m length and only 2.5 cm thickness. The bridge uses Jötunheimr as an anchor, shows the strength of the steel in stretch, and may resemble Bifröst where it cuts through the air. The adjustment in the rock is done with wire sawing to get a minimal and precise intervention in the rock.

The project’s basic concept is to facilitate use for all, while minimizing impact on nature. Local materials have been used in the adaptation. Furthermore, robust materials have been used that will age in a nice way in this extreme environment, and which also do not burden the environment in any way. All the structures are built in corten steel, which harmonises well with the surrounding landscape, and where the steel elements can be recycled.

The project highlights and makes accessible one of Norway’s most spectacular mountain areas without disturbing the experience of the landscape. Man-made wounds in the terrain have been repaired by facilitating revegetation with local plants, and traffic is now directed to the path to prevent wear and tear.

The entire hiking trail is designed as invisible as possible, it looks like it has always been here. The bridge design is based on the same principle; its ultra-thin and column-free shape means that it almost blends in with the surroundings. The project shows a complete will to step back, and let nature take the main role.

Project location: Sognefjellet, Lom municipality, Norway

Design year: 2014-2018

Year Built: 2017-2018

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