The rhythm, rise and fall of sea levels, caused by the combined effects of the gravitational forces exerted by the moon, the sun, and the rotation of the Earth, is the rhythm of nature itself.
In today’s busy lives, many of us are seldom tuned in to this rhythm. Simultaneously, we are increasingly aware of the importance and health benefits of being present and in touch with both nature and ourselves. To help us take this time, to reflect, connect and tune in, the Snøhetta team designed a unique resting space and tidal installation in Traelvikosen in Norway.
Together with our client, Norwegian Public Roads Administration, we were aiming for something distinctive. Through their program Norwegian Scenic Routes, they’ve established a series of experiences for road travelers. Along selected roads in Norway, natural wonders are amplified by art, design, and architecture, offering thought-provoking art in spectacular scenery. The selected roads run through landscapes with unique natural qualities, along coasts and fjords, mountains and waterfalls, and are intended as alternatives to the main roads. Hence the initiative has made a wide range of lesser-known areas more available to the public - to explore, experience and enjoy. In 2022, Snøhetta’s design at Traelvikosen is one of eleven new architectural projects that are opened as part of the new Scenic Route project series.
The installation at Traelvikosen offers the opportunity to walk into nature itself. 55 stepping stones placed in the water in a horizontal line, contrasting with the soft shapes of nature. Taking the visitor across the sandy sea bottom from the beach towards a small islet and the view towards famous mountain Torghatten, it becomes a fluid experience in line with the tidal level; fully visible at low tide and completely gone at high tide. It offers a range of impressions, from the small details in the shore to the grand views, and in addition, invites for a deeper understanding of time itself and the ever-changing nature. As the tide retracts and advances, new details and perspectives are revealed, minute by minute, inch by inch.
Aimed at increasing our awareness and attention to detail, the installation invites visitors to be immersed in nature, experiencing it, rather than just passing by or watch from a distance. Intentionally designed to make visitors slow down and observe, learn, and sense what is going on, the experience might also ignite new reflections on nature itself - and how we take care of it for the future.
The sandy bottom of Trælvikosen contains beautiful natural elements. The small pyramids of the lugworm, traces of snails moving through the ground, flounders, round stones in unique formats and the river meandering in an ever-changing trajectory. These natural details are all exposed, but the picture changes throughout the day, and the same goes for the experience of the surroundings. It all happens quickly, but as the tide rises, inch by inch, time seems to stop. This is all exposed in low tide, before everything is covered with clear, blue water.
Traelvikosen is located by a river estuary in the inner part of a fjord arm, just north of small city Brønnøysund. The team first visited the site in December 2018 and discovered a rich and very varied plot with regards to geology, with grassy boulders, and a variety of species making their own traces on the large exposed sandy bottom. The shallow river estuary, in combination with the large tidal differences, makes the experience change considerably throughout the day. Maintaining this focus on the experience of nature was a core focus for the project as such, also including the resting area, parking lot and other facilities.
Bringing the idea of the tidal installation to life, required ample testing and thorough research, among other things, for the foundation. It was tested for a full year with four stones, resulting in the conclusion not to cast the foundation, but to use crushed stone for stability.
The tide itself gave the team some extra challenges while installing the stones themselves, as there was a 4-hour window only, before water took charge of the site.
As a landscape project, sustainability is inherent, and Trælvikosen is no exception. The project was meticulously planned to avoid unnecessary footprints or disturbances. Construction mats were used through-out the building phase, so that machines could get in and out as gently as possible. All topsoil has been put back in place and already flourishes. The steppingstones themselves are locally sourced – carved and processed by Evjen Granitt in Bodø before being transported by boat to the site.
To experience this installation at its finest, we recommend visitors to check out the tide table, and also: Plan to stay for a while.
This way, you can indeed discover the nature and find your ground.
At Snøhetta, we believe that if we’re going to be able to take better care of our nature in the future, we must take the time to discover it. And connect.