Norway has a long history with adapting buildings to fit in a rough and challenging terrain. The Norwegian government feels that Norwegian architects and architecture can give foreigners a positive and modern view on Norway as a whole. At the same time it is the government’s policy to highlight work with traditional, Norwegian products. In architecture this is most often use of wood in building and construction. With a long history of timberwork in Norway, there is a lot of knowledge and possibilities regarding these types of materials.
This is reflected in a number of projects in Norway, especially when it comes to the National Tourist Routes in Norway. The project started in 2009, and the goal is to highlight 18 scenic tourist routes in Norway by building viewpoints, service buildings, car parks, paths etc. where people can take a break from their drive and just enjoy the surroundings. The Tourist Routes will also be in close proximity to different kinds of activities, restaurants and accommodations depending on each individual route. In June 2012 some new rest areas opened, amongst others at the Trollstigen plateau resting over the Trollstigen road with its 11 hairpin bends.
Several high profile architects have been, and still are, involved in this project. Most of them are Norwegians with a few exceptions, like the world renowned architect Peter Zumthor and the artist Louise Bourgeios. Several of the projects have gotten international praise and awards both in Norway and abroad. Currently an exhibition, called “Views. Norway seen from the road 1733–2020,” is taking place at the National Museum in Oslo. The exhibition adopts the perspective of the road traveler to trace connections between modern perceptions of Norway’s nature and landscapes and how these were seen in past times. The project is scheduled to be completed in 2020.
The new opera house in Oslo, the first ever opera house in Norway, is the brightest symbol of the rise of Norwegian architecture in recent years. Since its opening in 2008, the building has become a landmark in Oslo and the architects, the Norwegian company Snøhetta AS, has received several awards for their work, amongst others the Mies van der Rohe - award in 2009 in competition with 340 other projects in Europe.
Snøhetta has evolved into an internationally renowned architect firm with huge projects around the world. One of the first big projects was the library in Alexandria, Egypt. Since then, they have been selected to design the National September 11 Memorial and Museum in New York, as well as the Mutrah Fish Market in Oman and the Ras al – Khaimah – Gateway Project. In Saudi Arabia Snøhetta won the competition for Saudi Aramco’s new project, the King Abdulaziz Center for Knowledge and Culture, in Dhahran, which will be completed in 2013.
Two exhibitions from the National Museum focusing on Norwegian architecture, “Contemporary Norwegian Architecture” and “Snøhetta, Architecture – Landscape – Interior” are touring the world, and the Snøhetta – exhibition is expected to reach the Middle East in 2013.