This Way Up
Special mention for competition entry of the design of a space for contemplation of the natural landscape of the Norwegian Fjords. This project proposes the connection of the river to the mountain top by establishing a vertical plane composed of a series of switch back stairs, observatories, and camping areas that elevate 404 meters. This design offers a new method of engaging the Fjords by allowing a range of experiences, from waterside, to waterfalls, and mountain tops.
The relationship between architecture and nature has typically been perceived as a flat plane of site on top of which architecture sets itself. This proposal aims to disrupt that ideology by utilizing a vertical plane as site that shifts how architecture relates or attaches to nature; and through that, create a new experience that erases the hierarchy between nature and architecture to accentuate the experience produced by the relationship of both. The Fjords of Norway are considered some of the most beautiful natural landscapes on earth, with cascading mountain walls that plunge into the sea and weave in and out of its wide canals. The proposal works through the problem of defining a single observation point in an area where every perspective is in itself astounding; so in turn, the project takes on the tactic of creating a vertical procession where at every elevation, the views offer a different viewing experience. The project is positioned on the wall of a cliff creating a vertical line that connects the water, and the trails at the top of the mountains offering access to both boats and hikers. The vertical connection consists of a series of stairs that weave in and out of the face of the cliff allowing for a full 360 degrees of views throughout its 404 meter elevation and 1,930 steps (taller than the Empire State Building). The stairs are subdivided by camping areas which mark nine stories of elevation, creating sectors with different qualities of views ranging from waterside, to waterfalls, and mountain tops. Each sector has from 3-4 dead end stairs that provide resting stops and different angles of viewing allowing visitors to fully experience the depth of views that the site provides. This project aims to utilize the qualities of the site’s verticality to enhance the experience of itself and truly give visitors access to unattainable views through a journey, rather than a single stable point.