9 More Reasons Why We Heart Scandinavia

Norway’s Nasjonale Turistveger is taking the highway rest stop to a higher level.

American rest stops are often associated with abductions, rapes, snipers, drug trafficking, and the obesity epidemic. Unless you happen to be traveling through Vermont, they’re cautionary places to quickly attend to your business without talking to strangers. That could all change if we, as a nation, adopted more of a Norwegian attitude towards road trips.

In 2005, Norway launched The National Tourist Routes, a government-sponsored campaign to combine sustainable tourism with bold architecture. They’re working with architects, including Margrete Friis, Peter Zumthor, PUSHAK arkitekter, Code Arkitektur, Manthey Kula, Snohetta, and Jensen & Skodvin, and asked them to create gorgeous, nature-aware, rest stops, observation decks, and other small-scale projects, which are dotted along scenic drives that trace the Norwegian countryside from the southern town of Jaeren to the northern city of Varenger.

Clearly, we here at EcoSalon have a bit of a Scandinavian fetish going. We heart their food, their (local) labor practices, their eco lodges, their eco writers. We’re pretty obsessed. Here are eight more reasons we love them, nine, if you count the picnic area above designed by 70ºN Arkitektur.

The Norwegian Uthus

Canadian-born, Norway-based architect Todd Saunders designed this structure. It’s a toilet. On the side of the road. Overlooking a fjord. Yeah.

Observasjon dekk

This is the adjoining observation deck at Aurland.

Naturskjønn rute

The Trollstigen, in rural Norway, is what you would call the scenic route. This lookout was designed by Reiulf Ramstad Architects.


Also found at the Trollstigen lookout, these roadside concession stands are by Reiulf Ramstad Architects, as well.


This one-person picnic table was designed by Jensen & Skodvin Architects.

Fugl tårn

A bird watching tower by 70ºN Arkitektur for when you feel like pulling over and observing some birds, of course. The entrances to the towers are screened off with high walls so that no human silhouettes are cast, thus disturbing the main attraction.

Bike Bygning/Meditation Room

A bike shed situated at Grunnfør on Austvågøy in northern Lofoten with a view towards Vesterålen. Here, you can seek shelter from the wind, which can get intense, and meditate. Also by 70ºN.

En annen toalett

You won’t find a footpath or toilet like this on the New Jersey turnpike, but you will at the Tungeneset rest stop. The service facilities, access ramp and picnic area are by Code Arkitektur. Landscape architecture by Aurora Landskap.

God bless America and all, but Norway puts this….

…to shame.


Images: Nasjonale Turistveger; ArchDaily; Good; Maryland Route 5


K. Emily Bond

K. Emily Bond is the Shelter Editor at EcoSalon and currently resides in southern Spain, reporting on trends in art, design, sustainable living and lifestyle.