Østengen & Bergo Landscape Architects : Skjervsfossen is situated close to Voss by the former highway connecting east and west of Norway. For decades, the beauty of Skjervsfossen was vanished due to heavy commercial traffic on the highway. It was a roadside waterfall passers noticed as the car was sprinkled. In 2011 a tunnel was built for the main traffic on the highway, and new possibilities for Skjervsfossen as a tourist destination arose.
The landscape surrounding the waterfall is a narrow valley formed like a deep bowl. The waterfall drop 135 meters over two sections divided by a terrace and a road bridge. The terrain is steep and was almost impossible to walk in, and a trail made of natural stone became a central nerve of the project. Instead of leading the public to one point, to view the waterfall from a certain distance and angle, the project invites visitors to teem into and enjoy the landscape. The viewpoints offer different experiences of the waterfall; either it is by looking at wild river flow just before it drops, feeling the dizziness standing on the edge of the fall or listening to the rumbling of the cascade in the lush forest. At the bottom of the valley, a universally designed pathway leads into the foot of the fall. Here visitors will experience the extreme power of the water, and be completely showered in periods with high water level in the river.
Local natural stone is the main material in the project, used in the restroom building, service area and nature trails. The color scheme is carefully adapted to the environment, with robust designed fences in rebar and benches in concrete. The abrupt rising figure of the restroom building creates a landmark seen from the road, but it does not interfere with the landscape and waterfall view once at the parking area.
We believe that plan and sections may explore the spatial character of our work, but the experiential qualities consist in the materials themselves, how they are crafted and adapted to the landscape. By this, it was crucial to have the right craftsmen in Skjervsfossen. Norwegian landscape contractors made the straight lines and precise walls of natural stone. Nepalese Sherpas shaped the natural stairs of stone in terrain. Our intention was to create gentle interventions that look like they have always been there – despite their modern form. We hope that the combination of contemporary form, ancient craft and local material, create a timeless dimension to the project.
Landscape architect: Østengen & Bergo Landscape Architects
Location: Granvin, Voss, Norway
Client: Statens Vegvesen, Norwegian Public Roads Administration
Architect (restroom building): Fortunen Architects
Type of project: Viewpoints, trails, pathways and service area by a waterfall
Area: 4 hectares
Cost: Approx. 159 000 euro
Image credits: Photograph Paal Hoff, Contractor Aakerholt Steen & Lund, Gunnar Bergo