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At a time when America's roads are in disrepair and its rest stops are being shuttered, here is an object lesson from what is arguably Scandinavia's most beautiful country. In Norway, the government takes public art and architecture seriously. Through its National Tourist Routes, which zigzag the country, highlighting its natural splendor with high-design rest stops and other structures, Norway is showing what an investment in design can look like.
All photographs were taken by Steve Delahoyde from Coudal Partners on a trip to Norway in early June.
This is the interior of a freestanding room at Juvet Landscape Hotel, a stunning retreat outside of Alesund. Designed by JSA Architects, each curtainless room faces mountains striped with waterfalls, and many of the rooms are propped on stilts over the rushing Valldøla river.
The legendary Sverre Fehn designed the Norwegian Glacier Museum in Fjaerland, where there is currently a stirring exhibit about climate change. The glass mimics the nearby glaciers, and, although you can't see the landscape in this picture, the structure lines up perfectly with it from every vantage point.
The Canadian-born, Norway-based architect Todd Saunders designed this structure. It's hard to believe, but it's a public restroom on the side of the road, overlooking a fjord and, in the distance, a tiny town.
Adjacent to the Glacier Museum is this charming, design-forward-and-design-backward outhouse, also by Sverre Fehn. It's open to the public and lines up playfully with the snow-capped peak in the background.
The public toilet a couple of slides ago sits beside this stunning lookout at Aurland. Designed by Todd Saunders and Tommie Wilhelmsen, it's a rest stop for drivers and tourists, and it was commissioned by the Norwegian Highway Department. The way it slopes down the mountain mirrors a waterfall across the fjord.
The Trollstigen, in rural Norway, is a deathly narrow mountain road with 11 hairpin turns. Overlooking it is this stunning lookout by Reiulf Ramstad Architects, which enhances the natural surroundings without distracting from the main act, which is nature. The government paid for this one, too.
The architects behind the stunning Juvet Hotel are also in the process of finishing this restaurant in a relatively unpopulated area nearby—surely a design destination to come. Its modernness somehow complements the surrounding wilderness.
Also at the Trollstigen lookout, these pods were commissioned by the Norwegian public roads administration. Designed by Reiulf Ramstad Architects, they will house roadside concession shops for travelers.
As part of the government's investment in its highways and rest stops, the National Tourist Routes feature charming design oddities like this one-person picnic table, designed by Jensen & Skodvin Architects.
This is a viewing platform that blends into the side of the river overlooking Gudbrandsjuvet. The viewpoint was designed by the JSA Architect team, and is part of a public walking area near their in-construction restaurant.