Trollstigen Visitor Centre by Reiulf Ramstad Architects, Norway

View of the Trollstigen Visitor Centre - a concrete and glass building with a geometric design surrounded by mountains and a river which is flowing over multiple levels
(Image credit: PRESS)

This year's unusually cold Norwegian spring has tried its best to put a spanner in the works for the opening of the new Trollstigen Visitor Centre. Snow was falling as late as the first weekend of June, so when Wallpaper* visited the site a few days later, the workmen were busy clearing metres of snow and ice from the building's sloping roofs.

The Visitor Centre, which opened last weekend, is a new addition to the existing Trollstigen Viewing Platform, both designed by Reiulf Ramstad Architects (opens in new tab), and is part of the National Tourist Routes (opens in new tab) in Norway. Situated in a mountain pass - at an elevation of around 850 metres - between the towns of Valldal and Åndalsnes in Western Norway, the Trollstigen Visitor Centre and Viewing Platform provides spectacular views of the Trollstigen road - the 'Troll Ladder'.

With an incline of nine percent and 11 tight hairpin bends winding down a steep mountainside, the road opened in 1936 after eight years of construction. It has subsequently become one of Norway's most popular tourist attractions.

The central building of the Visitor Centre contains a café and information point. Designed to resemble the shapes of the surrounding mountain peaks, it is formed from two shells and built from glass, steel and concrete to cope with the violent mountain climate. The shells fold across each other to provide a glass-walled shelter with spectacular views of the landscape. The building's surfaces alternate between being as smooth as ice and as rough as rocks, echoing the complex natural forms of the Norwegian mountain landscape.

The other building, containing service facilities, a kiosk and a souvenir store, is structured like a defensive wall, acting as a manmade flood barrier for when the crystal-clear River Istra soars with meltwater during the spring.

In fact, water has been a key element in the architectural design. A series of stepped pools with angular thresholds that expand the water's surface, help control the flow of the river around the new buildings. 'Much of the uniqueness of Nordic culture, and Norwegian culture in particular, is based on our relationship to water,' says Reiulf Ramstad. 'At Trollstigen, water can be experienced as snow on the mountains, as a glistening mirror, as a swirling but controlled cascade or as a dramatic waterfall, all of which is reflected in the Visitor Centre's design.'

View of the Trollstigen Visitor Centre and a path by a river surrounded by greenery and mountains under a blue cloudy sky

From the Visitor Centre, a path leads out to two viewing platforms

(Image credit: PRESS)

View of a rusted steel door and shelter at the Trollstigen Visitor Centre under a blue cloudy sky

The centre is built from glass, steel and concrete to cope with the harsh mountain climate

(Image credit: PRESS)

Interior view of the Trollstigen Visitor Centre featuring dark coloured walls, spotlights, floor-to-ceiling windows, pillars, wooden tables and black chairs

The main building houses a café and information point. The tables, with oak tops and legs in lacquered black steel, have been specially designed for the building by the architects

(Image credit: PRESS)

View of the landscape through openings of the Trollstigen Visitor Centre. Mountains, rocks, greenery and a river can be seen under a clear white sky

Parts of the structure acts as a manmade flood barrier for when the River Istra soars with meltwater during the spring

(Image credit: PRESS)

An open top viewing platform with concrete floors, rusted steel walls and a glass panel. A mountain can also be seen under a clear white sky

Like the main buildings, the viewing platforms are also built from glass, steel and concrete

(Image credit: PRESS)

Close up view of a concrete wall and bench at the Trollstigen Visitor Centre under a clear blue sky

The building's surfaces alternate between being as smooth as ice and as rough as rocks, echoing the complex natural forms of the Norwegian mountain landscape

(Image credit: PRESS)

View of a layered pool with steps and a surrounding barrier. Large rocks and greenery sit behind the pool area

A series of stepped pools with angular thresholds that expand the water’s surface, help control the flow of the river around the new buildings

(Image credit: PRESS)

Close up view of the Trollstigen Visitor Centre's concrete exterior. The building is surrounded by water and a snow covered landscape

The buildings are designed to resemble the shapes of the surrounding landscape

(Image credit: PRESS)

Close up view of the snow covered Trollstigen Visitor Centre under a blue sky. There is a person in a red jacket standing on the building and the mountains are also covered in snow

The mountain pass in which the Visitor Centre sits is closed much of the year and normally opens at the end of May until early autumn. Snow was falling as late as the first weekend of June, so when Wallpaper* visited the site a few days later, the workmen were busy clearing metres of snow and ice from the building's sloping roofs

(Image credit: PRESS)

Light falls house shelving

During the winter, the buildings – and the road – are completely covered in snow and are only accessible for those on skis

(Image credit: PRESS)

View of snow covered mountains and buildings with reflective panels during the day

Some of the buildings, which contain service facilities, a kiosk and a souvenir store, are structured like a defensive wall and act as a manmade flood barrier for River Istra

(Image credit: PRESS)

View of the snow covered landscape from a rusted steel bridge and path with side rails that crosses a river

When we arrived, the snow had just been cleared from parts of the path leading out to the viewing platforms

(Image credit: PRESS)

View of a river along with a snow covered path and mountains

The mountain pass is at an elevation of around 850 metres, between the towns of Valldal and Åndalsnes in Western Norway

(Image credit: PRESS)

View of an elevated viewing platform that sits above the Stigfossen waterfall. A mountain can also be seen under a blue cloudy sky

The viewing platforms sit above the Stigfossen waterfall, which drops 320 metres down the mountainside

(Image credit: PRESS)

View of the mountainside steps with rusted steel barriers that lead to the viewing platforms

The viewing platforms can only be accessed by foot and are often covered in snow early on in the tourist season

(Image credit: PRESS)

View from a rusted steel viewing platform of the Trollstigen road which winds down the mountainside. There are three people on the viewing platform

The Trollstigen road has an incline of nine percent and consists of 11 tight hairpin bends winding down a steep mountainside

(Image credit: PRESS)

View of steps with rusted steel barriers that lead to a viewing platform. The steps are surrounded by mountains and a white fog can also be seen

The building of the mountain pass began in 1928 and was a huge challenge, as the area was steep and prone to landslides and flooding. The road was finally opened on 31 July 1936 by King Haakon

(Image credit: PRESS)

A viewing platform surrounded by mountains under a cloudy sky

The Visitor Centre and viewing platforms are part of the National Tourist Routes in Norway

(Image credit: PRESS)

A rusted steel viewing platform with glass barriers surrounded by a white fog. There is a person in a red jacket standing on the platform looking out

Glass panels allow spectacular (if sometimes foggy) views even for those who can only crawl to the edge of the platforms

(Image credit: PRESS)