To mark the 20th anniversary of Topos, edition 80 (due out September) will celebrate landscape architecture as a profession. For this reason the editors chose to recognize two initiatives that together show the range of planning responsibilities and provide material for professional reflection: from building in the countryside to urban agriculture. Abalimi Bezekhaya and the Norwegian Tourist Routes are the two winning projects.
Trollstigen Plateau National Tourist Route, Norway, Reiulf Ramstad Architects.
The now relatively well-publicized idea of the Statens Vegvesen (Norwegian National Road Administration) was born 20 years ago: applying to particularly stunning rural routes throughout Norway. All Norwegian regions were invited to submit such routes, 18 of the best were chosen, points of interest along the routes were then identified on which new rest areas and service facilities were to be built, all complete with spectacular views. Artists, architects and landscape architects were invited to participate. The background of the whole scheme was to lure more tourists to remote areas, and it was recognized early on the effectiveness of outstanding architecture as bait. Landscape design, architecture and infrastructure are the key words that resonate with the tourist routes. Almost all the routes and rest stops can only be reached by car or by mountain bike, although increasingly there are more locally organized bus excursions, and tour bus operators are beginning to include the stunning beauty of the tourist routes into their programs.
Why has Topos chosen to grant recognition to the Norwegian Tourist Routes project? Firstly to highlight the situation in Norway, where the state is actively promoting and commissioning architecture on a significant scale, and on the other hand to critically reflect on whether it is responsible in current times to be encouraging more car-based tourism. Thus the whole concept, including each of the 50+ highlights, can be brought into discussion.
The Norwegian Tourist Routes, as well as the second recognition winner Abalimi Bezekhaya, will be presented at the 7th European Biennial of Landscape Architecture in Barcelona on the 29th of September.
DEN by Mark Dion. Photography: Steinar Skaar / Statens vegvesen.