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Norway’s National Tourist Routes: How we came to view the landscape as a tourist experience and how is it being utilised as a commodity for consumption?

Part 2 Dissertation 2014
Richard Fennell
University of Sheffield Sheffield UK
The National Tourist Routes in Norway are 18 stretches of road running through spectacular varied landscapes, incorporating architectural interventions and promoting tourism in the country. The project brings together infrastructure, architecture, art and the landscape. Triggered by my own journey along the Geiranger-Trollstigen route, the dissertation revisits that journey and explores the interrelation between these diverse themes, drawing on the history of landscape within society, the growth of the automobile and tourism, and government legislation through time. The scheme places focus on brand and national identity, as well as facing challenges of working with the subtleties and sensitivity that an ancient landscape deserves.

The tourist experience encompasses not only the journey along these routes, but the stopping points placed along them, turning a site into a sight or attraction. These interventions provide essential services to the traveller, whilst acting as a high-profile platform for the promotion of Norwegian architecture and generating opportunities for young architecture practices through their commission. By creating a range of identities, tourists are encouraged to visit as much of the scheme as they can, thus spreading wealth across the country. Additionally, the project becomes a tool for managing and safeguarding a landscape that convention states must remain accessible to all.

This dissertation begins to reveal the complexities of our modern-day understanding of the landscape and a contemporary approach to utilising it for consumption by the masses. With no ‘correct’ formula, innovation and experimentation within design is encouraged, adding to the attraction of the project which has been reflected within travel and architectural media. In essence, it is the very human need to explore and a present-day fashion for viewing the landscape that the scheme accommodates. In doing this, both the landscape and architecture en route are being exhibited as a collection of destinations and experiences. Travellers are drawn into an ancient landscape whilst, the government hope, providing great economic benefits across the country. Centuries of tradition continue to being built upon, providing new and innovative ways for tourists to consume the landscape, in a way that still feels familiar.

Richard Fennell

Stephen Walker
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