Valldal (NO) - Jensen & Skodvin architects have created a hotel that manages to leave no scars on the surface of a pristine landscape.
Today's concern for sustainability in architecture often focuses on reduced energy consumption in production and operation. Conservation of topography is another aspect of sustainability that deserves more attention. Standard building procedures require the site to be cleared for foundations and infrastructure before building can commence. The main idea behind this small and original hotel was to respect the fact that nature precedes and succeeds man by sparing the site as much as possible.
The Juvet Landscape Hotel is located in north-west Norway, in landscape linked to the world heritage-listed Geirangerfjord. Tourism in these parts is all about the natural landscape. Passing tourists are attracted by Gudbrandsjuvet, a spectacular waterfall in a deep gorge located some 500 metres from the hotel. The hotel's owner, a local resident, wanted to exploit the breathtaking scenery on his property, but with a minimum of interventions, thereby allowing access to locations that would otherwise be prohibited for reasons of nature protection.
Instead of a conventional hotel layout, the rooms of the Landscape Hotel are distributed across the terrain in the form of huts. Through careful orientation, the architects have made sure that every room has its own unique view of a landscape that changes with the season, the weather, and the time of day. No room overlooks any other room. The hotel lobby and restaurant are located in a nearby farmstead dating from the 16th century.
The walls, roof and floors of the hotel rooms are all constructed of solid timber members. Since the units are intended for summer use only, the outer shell is thin and there is minimal insulation. Each building sits aloft a set of four-centimetre-diameter solid steel rods drilled down into the bedrock, leaving the topography and vegetation untouched. Construction took place in winter, when there was snow to protect the fragile moss vegetation from the machinery. Building elements where sized so that they could be handled mainly by hand and by snow scooter.
The solid wood construction is clad with larch panels treated on the outside with ferrous sulphate to accelerate and equalize the natural greying process of the wood. On the inside the panels are sanded and tinted. The window glass is set in slim frames of steel profiles, using stepped edges to extend the exterior layer of the main glass surfaces all the way to the corners. The frames of the doors and smaller windows are made of plywood and set flush with the outer cladding.
Juvet Landscape Hotel is situated on one of the designated tourist roads of Norway and is a type of development that the national tourist road association is keen to encourage. The client accordingly received some financial support for the design phase. Now a small spa building, also designed by Jensen & Skodvin, is under development. The hotel, which is targeted at well-heeled European tourists, offers high quality service, food and experiences in combination with simple rooms and beautiful views.
May | 2009 | Norway | Sissil Morseth Gromholt