Sarpsborg, Østfold, Norway
Sarpsborg is a green, flat and calm piece of South Norway and a traditional stopover
for travellers on the route to and from Sweden. In 2004, the Norwegian Highway
Department together with the Regional Government approached Saunders for a
new project in the area; uniquely however, without having predetermined the
commission’s particular needs.
– The project leaders had been following my work and asked me to do something in
the area, although they didn’t have a specific idea of what they wanted me to do,
Saunders recalls. – In a way I had to almost come up with the program myself,
it was very free and creative.
Focusing on the site and aiming to identify its challenges and advantages in order to
define its problems and opportunities, Saunders worked closely with the client, not
only to develop the optimum design solution, but also the project’s own brief.
– We discussed what we needed and the architecture came out of that, he explains.
As Sarpsborg is one of the first tastes of Norway the travellers from Sweden
experience, it was important for the client that they would be able to slow down and
spend time discovering the surrounding nature. The local forest and coastline form
a beautiful, yet largely unknown part of the country. The neighbouring highway’s
speed and noise only enhance the traveller’s need for a break and re-connection with
nature, so a green resting space was on the top of the list. A low walled ramp spirals
around the rest area, defining the 2000 sq m area’s limits, while spring-flowering
fruit trees adorn the courtyard. Within it, Saunders designed seven small pavilions
working with graphic designer Camilla Holcroft, showcasing information on the
local rock carvings from the Bronze Age, an exhibition, which continues on the
because everybody just drives through trying to get to Oslo, says Saunders.
The structures also offer the option for temporary artist exhibitions.
The flatness of the landscape meant that the beauty of the surrounding nature
could only be enjoyed from a certain height, so the creation of a tower quickly
became a main part of the brief. The ramp’s asymmetrical walls rise from 0 – 4m,
then forms a 30m simple nine–storey-tall structure on the site’s northern edge,
including only a staircase and an elevator. Named Solberg (which translates
into ‘sun mountain’), the tower’s aerial views towards the nearby coastline and
the Oslo fjord are truly dramatic.
Finally, the design’s style and aesthetic was developed in relation to the environs’
existing architecture; minimal and geometrical contemporary shapes were chosen,
contrasting the local farming villages’ more traditional forms. The main materials
used were beautifully-ageing CorTen steel for the exterior walls and warm oiled
hard wood for the courtyard’s design elements and information points. Local
slate and fine gravel pave the ground level.
Underlining the area’s natural and historical attractions, supported by strong
architectural forms, Saunders produced a complex, in direct response to both the
clients’ and site’s requirements. A cooperation between several municipalities, the
regional government and the national highways department, the Sarpsborg project
completed summer 2010
Statens Vegvesen, Østfold fylkeskommune,
Sarpsborg kommune og Fredrikstad kommune
Saunders Architecture – Bergen, Norway
Todd Saunders, Mats Odin Rustøy, Inês Moço Pereira,
Mathias Kempton, Attila Béres, Joseph Kellner,
Michaela Huber, Greg Poliseo
General contractor: Veidekke ASA
Sweco Norge AS, Karin Anja Arnesen
Sweco Norge AS, Per Jo Treimo
Sweco Norge AS, Bjørnar Isaksen
Sweco Norge AS, Liv Normann
glazing consulta nts:
Saint-Gobain Bøckmann AS, Henrik Ronneberg Nilsen, Trond Karlsen
stel consulta nts:
Jotne Mekaniske Verksteder AS,
Terje Johannessen, Helge Thorsen, Vidar Larsen, Stein Aune
Kristin Berg, Statens Vegvesen
graphic designer/info graphics & illustrat ion:
size: 2 000 m2
locat ion: Sarpsborg, Østfold, Norway
status : Finished September 2010