The Norwegian Scenic Routes, a program of permanent installations, footpaths and bridges that encourages tourists and locals alike to traipse through the awe-inspiring natural settings of the Nordic country, has produced some incredible architecture. Among them are Peter Zumthor and Louise Bourgeois’s Steilneset memorial to the victims of Europe’s witch hunts and Rintala Eggertsson Architects’ Høse footbridge over the Suldalslågen river.
With a selection of routes from Varanger in the north to Jæren in the south, the initiative by the Norwegian Public Roads Administration shows that, when done correctly, communal infrastructure can propel tourism.
Recently added to these star attractions is a new footbridge connecting two clifftops — at a height difference of 16 metres — on either side of a gorge in Vøringsfossen (along the south-eastern Norwegian Scenic route Hardangervidda). Designed by architect Carl-Viggo Hølmebakk, the structure spans 47 metres and includes 99 steps. It connects with switchbacks that provide promontory views over a waterfall and a footpath delineated by a safety railing that were completed in 2018.
Built entirely of steel, the seven bridge components were hoisted by a crane and secured into place with solid rock bolts over a period of nine days that — one could only imagine — was terror-inducing. In a press release, project manager Kjersti Wold recalled the challenging endeavour: “The installation of the bridge for nine hectic days in June at a place with steep precipices into a torrential river was also a very demanding task in terms of safety, staff and equipment.” The feat was well worth it.
While not likely to lure acrophobics, the Vøringsfossen continues the connective tissue of the Norwegian Scenic Routes with daring aplomb.
Part of the ongoing Norwegian Scenic Routes program, the new step bridge above Vøringsfossen is not for the faint of heart.