Solberg Tower & Park


Solberg Tower & Park located at Sarpsborg, Østfold, Norway is a project by Saunders Architecture.

Sarpsborg is a green, flat and calm piece of South Norway and a traditional stopover for travellers on the route to and from Sweden. In 2004, the Norwegian Highway Department together with the Regional Government approached Saunders for a new project in the area; uniquely however, without having predetermined the commission’s particular needs.

– The project leaders had been following my work and asked me to do something in the area, although they didn’t have a specific idea of what they wanted me to do, Saunders recalls. – In a way I had to almost come up with the program myself, it was very free and creative.

Focusing on the site and aiming to identify its challenges and advantages in order to define its problems and opportunities, Saunders worked closely with the client, not only to develop the optimum design solution, but also the project’s own brief. – We discussed what we needed and the architecture came out of that, he explains.

As Sarpsborg is one of the first tastes of Norway the travellers from Sweden experience, it was important for the client that they would be able to slow down and spend time discovering the surrounding nature. The local forest and coastline form a beautiful, yet largely unknown part of the country. The neighbouring highway’s speed and noise only enhance the traveller’s need for a break and re-connection with nature, so a green resting space was on the top of the list. A low walled ramp spirals around the rest area, defining the 2000 sqm area’s limits, while spring-flowering fruit trees adorn the courtyard. Within it, Saunders designed seven small pavilions working with graphic designer Camilla Holcroft, showcasing information on the local rock carvings from the Bronze Age, an exhibition, which continues on the ramp’s walls.

The surrounding forest is full of rock carvings but no one knows about them because everybody just drives through trying to get to Oslo, says Saunders. The structures also offer the option for temporary artist exhibitions.

The flatness of the landscape meant that the beauty of the surrounding nature could only be enjoyed from a certain height, so the creation of a tower quickly became a main part of the brief. The ramp’s asymmetrical walls rise from 0 – 4m, then forms a 30m simple nine–storey-tall structure on the site’s northern edge, including only a staircase and an elevator. Named Solberg (which translates into ‘sun mountain’), the tower’s aerial views towards the nearby coastline and the Oslo fjord are truly dramatic.

Finally, the design’s style and aesthetic was developed in relation to the environs’ existing architecture; minimal and geometrical contemporary shapes were chosen, contrasting the local farming villages’ more traditional forms. The main materials used were beautifully-ageing CorTen steel for the exterior walls and warm oiled hard wood for the courtyard’s design elements and information points. Local slate and fine gravel pave the ground level.

Underlining the area’s natural and historical attractions, supported by strong architectural forms, Saunders produced a complex, in direct response to both the clients’ and site’s requirements. A cooperation between several municipalities, the regional government and the national highways department, the Sarpsborg project completed summer 2010.

  • Project name: Solberg Tower & Park
  • Location: Sarpsborg, Østfold, Norway
  • Program: Lookout and park
  • Area: Project size: 2,000 m2
  • Year: Completion: September 2010
  • Project by: Saunders Architecture
  • Team: Project team: Todd Saunders, Mats Odin Rustøy, Inês Moço Pereira, Mathias Kempton, Attila Béres, Joseph Kellner, Michaela Huber, Greg Poliseo
  • Others: General contractor: Veidekke ASA • Construction management: Sweco Norge AS (Karin Anja Arnesen) • Structural engineer: Sweco Norge AS (Per Jo Treimo) • Electrical engineer: Sweco Norge AS (Bjørnar Isaksen) • Mechanical engineer: Sweco Norge AS (Liv Normann) • Glazing consultants: Saint-Gobain Bøckmann AS (Henrik Ronneberg Nilsen, Trond Karlsen) • Steel consultants: Jotne Mekaniske Verksteder AS, (Terje Johannessen, Helge Thorsen, Vidar Larsen, Stein Aune) • Landscape architects: Kristin Berg, Statens Vegvesen • Graphic designer/info graphics & illustration: Camilla Holcroft
  • Text: Courtesy of Saunders Architecture
  • Images: Courtesy of Saunders Architecture.


Earthquake Memorial 27F

Originating in a presidential initiative urgent, the architects were invited to national open competition to solve a memorial square at the intersection of the main axis of Concepcion Park edge of Bio Bio. Participants to this contest more than a hundred teams, which should be composed at least by a registered architect and an artist. Was sworn in a week and the results are available in the Platform Architecture article found on this link.  All proposals had a brief public life to be hung in the 2010 Biennial, ours, unfortunately, more over in a disorderly manner. Before the idea be buried in oblivion, we present here, with pictures, memory and budget. The team was composed of Pia Montealegre (architect ICA 8426) and Daniel Urria (PUC visual artist). Memory:

1. The forms of the tradition
The production of memory locations, usually on the premise arquitecturizados monumentality and minimalist, often leaving the forms of memory that are typical of the folk tradition. Often, hieratic spaces and leave no purist or visitors or their manifestations of grief, standardizing the memory in a limited and repetitive speech. Inaccurate listings of victims, laden instructional prohibitions, and to the impoundment of flowers, photographs and other personal items that the relatives insist on placing, a necessary end to prevent social appropriation of the place, to finally end up being forgotten places.
Our country is rich in a tradition of remembrance in variety of ways animitas makers and other popular devotions.This manifestation of piety and objectual space has a texture and beauty of their own, pointing with certainty the ritual status of the site, and avoiding-naturally-the desecration and neglect.
That is why the proposal is Kingpin these forms of tradition, leading to them as space characters.
2. Symbolic forms
The memorial consists of a series of elements articulating a story. A path from the sidewalk and oriented along the fabric of the city is covered with 523 lights, symbolic of the individuality of the lives lost on February 27. The road crosses a spherical section symbolizing the pain and material crisis that brings the event of earthquake. This section is formed into the concrete walls and pillars that make up its debris mixture selected from the destruction.Niches in the walls allow the installation of plates, candles, flowers and other objects that symbolize the pain and the memory for what is lost, producing a kind of cenotaph. The walls and pillars are covered by Ampelopsis (Parthenocissus tricuspidata or quinquefolia ), deciduous vine that is seasonal in its change, life changes and nature. On rainy days, the circle of the material will tend to fill with water, which added to the variation in texture and color of vegetation, highlights this changing condition and renewal.
However, the road crosses the event, which is contained and limited. Both the bereaved and the lights symbolize the victims continue to go down to the Bio Bio, a symbol of greater and unknown end that gives meaning to life.Thus the memorial does not focus on the pain of material and tragic event, but in hope, comfort and the possibility for man to overcome.
3. The ritual
To achieve the successful appropriation of the memorial, it is essential the spatialization of a ritual, a gesture of return consistent memory as the place. The occupation of the niches will be opened along with the memorial, inviting and sponsoring the laying of the first plates and memorabilia from stakeholders. Also, the spring should be incorporated into the collective ceremony, deposited on occasion flowers and floating candles in the river. Similarly, other departments in the construction of the memorial can be exploited to perform symbolic acts that involve the community, such as: the selection and disposal of debris in the formwork, planting and sowing of the pasture surrounding the installation of vines, etc.. In the same logic, the memorial will remain occupied, respected and maintained over time and in an annual commemoration.
4. The milestone reminder
At each site can recreate a milestone on the basis of a pillar or pier with niches and planted with Ampelopsis. On the floor will be installed also the amount of light equivalent to local victims, which may be distributed according to environment settings.
5. Economic evaluation
It is estimated that both the memorial as a reminder the milestone may be performed entirely within the estimated budget (see table below). The lighting will preferably solar, low-power and long duration (LED). Similarly, the plant water requirements will be adequate rainfall characteristics of the place, requiring only irrigation and pruning for Ampelopsis in midsummer. The active involvement of mourners at the memorial will use a safe occupation and collective maintenance and tacit, in the same way they are preserved and respected animitas and other places of popular devotion.