The first landscape hotel in Europe is situated in the farmstead of Burtigarden farm at Alstad in Valldal, on a steep, natural levee amongst birch, aspen, pine and age-old boulders.
In this little village in rural Norway, modern architecture encounters the natural and cultural landscape – and shows that the modern and innovative can go hand in hand with local building traditions and good, old-fashioned craftsmanship.
Unique rooms at the Norwegian Landscape Hotel
The Norwegian Landscape Hotel consists of nine detached rooms that are sited separately, each with a unique perspective on the rugged landscape. In addition, there is the opportunity to stay in the old buildings on the farm – the mill house, the barn and the authentically restored farmhouse – while meals are served communally in the old barn.
The seven first landscape rooms at the Norwegian Landscape Hotel
The seven first landscape rooms are double rooms, built individually into the landscape.
The architects Jensen & Skodvin envisioned a landscape hotel that would blend in with the natural environment. The result is seven small “cubes” on stilts, with glass walls that offer each space a striking view of the valley, the river, the courtyard or the dramatic gorge below.
It captures the feeling of being in a lean-to – whilst being far more luxurious.
While no two rooms are alike, all the rooms have a dark interior to avoid stealing focus from the scenery. Apart from the little bathroom, of course. Here the sun shines even in the middle of the winter!
The “birdhouses” at the Norwegian Landscape Hotel
The two new single rooms – or “birdhouses” – are fashioned in a more minimalist architectural style than the first landscape rooms, constructed in the manner of the “stabburet”, a traditional Norwegian log house originally used as a food store.
The structures resemble birdhouses gently placed on the steep slopes above the other landscape rooms.
We have tried to highlight how little we actually need to achieve a sense of well-being. The rooms are no bigger than 8 square metres in total, but provide a comfortable bed, a small sofa bench, a shower and a toilet.
The interior is light and pleasant, with large windows designed to let nature in. Smaller windows provide stunning glimpses of the world outside. From the bed, you can look out on the mountainside, just centimetres away. This close to nature, perhaps you can even see the moss growing?
Spa area at the Norwegian Landscape Hotel
The bathing area is a tranquil and refreshing spa built into the land by the river, invisible from the farmyard, but still only a few short steps away.
It is a welcome bliss to relax here after a skiing trip or a walk – or perhaps after a long journey.
The spa area itself is in dark concrete, but the small rooms are painted in beautiful colors to conjure up the impression of being in a cave. The facade is a 15-metre-long glass sheet facing the flowing river as it winds its way up under Juvet. It is as though the river is graciously greeting us here while en route towards the fjord 15 kilometers below.
The farmhouse at the Norwegian Landscape Hotel
We don’t rent out the old farmhouse to individuals. This venue is mainly used for large gatherings, such as weddings, anniversaries, company gatherings or other arrangements for guests with a common interest during their stay.
The farmhouse was built in the 1870s, and it was a major challenge to restore it to its authentic, former appearance. Luckily, we discovered a photograph from around 1880, which enabled us to recreate the original style of the exterior. While we have stayed true to the traditional style, we have modified the house’s interior so that it also meets the requirements of a modern, functional dwelling.
The barn at the Norwegian Landscape Hotel
The 100-year-old farm building in Burtigarden has been restored and rebuilt, giving the old rooms new functions:
The mountain cabin at the Norwegian Landscape Hotel
The newly located old mountain cabin in the orchard has beds for two people.
The people who tended the cattle, goats and sheep in days gone by lived in cabins or chalets like these when they were up at the summer mountain pasture.
The mill house at the Norwegian Landscape Hotel
The smallest house on the farm is the mill house, where grain was milled in times gone by. It is a modest space, at just two square meters, but features a lovely bed with space for one or two people and not much else. The old mill house is located down by the river in Stamphølen and has perhaps the most exclusive view of all the rooms on the farm.
The mountain cabin and mill house have no electricity or running water.
All rooms have WiFi.
Instead of a conventional hotel with guest rooms stacked together in one large building, the idea was to distribute the rooms throughout the site in the form of small, individual houses.
"Conserving the site is a way to respect the fact that nature precedes and succeeds man."
Today’s concern for sustainability in architecture focuses almost exclusively on reduced energy consumption in production and operation. We believe that conservation of topography is another aspect of sustainability that deserves attention. Standard building procedure requires the general destruction of the site to accommodate foundations and infrastructure before building can commence. Conserving the site is a way to respect the fact that nature precedes and succeeds man.
When we observe the topography of the site, we facilitate an experience where the geometry of the man-made accentuates the irregular quality of nature, shedding greater light on both the structure itself and its context. A sustainable connection is established between structure and site.
A feeling of spaciousness
The hotel has been built in two main phases. Seven rooms and a separate spa building were built in the first phase, from 2007 to 2010. In the second phase, from 2012 to 2013, two more rooms have been added. The two new rooms are in keeping with the main approach, although they have been constructed with both a more sophisticated, and a more simple architectural language and technology.
We wanted to create a feeling that the rooms were as boundless as the landscape outside.
Including the latest addition, nine rooms have been completed altogether, with the possibility of more to come. All the rooms have slightly different designs, as a result of local topographical needs and how the trees are positioned, as well as to maximise the requirements for privacy and the best possible views. No rooms necessitate rock blasting or changes to the terrain, as the rooms integrate into the existing topography.
Burtigarden farm at Alstad was one of the largest farms in Norddal municipality. The farm and its people are documented in local history and parish registers as far back as the 16th century. These sources refer to the unusually fertile land of the Alstad farms which yielded good seed corn – so good that people from settlements to the east of the mountains came here to acquire it for their fields.
The farms in this productive area are located at the natural approach to the West Norwegian Fjords, which in 2005 was inscribed in Unesco’s World Heritage List as the first natural heritage area in the country. Reinheimen National Park, which is a wild and varied mountain region, practically extends all the way to the back gardens of this small community.
Behind the pine-clad rock in Burtigarden lies the famous Gudbrandsjuvet gorge. Here the Valldøla river flows through a narrow ravine, where meltwater from glaciers has formed many large potholes over thousands of years. Gudbrandsjuvet is a popular stop for those who want to enjoy the sight of the powerful, surging volumes of water, particularly after the road over Trollstigen was built and opened in 1936.
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