blackBOOK - Roger Norum. Writer.

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blackBOOK - Roger Norum. Writer.
blackBook
a g u i d e fo r t h e so p h i st i cat e d t rav e l l e r h e r e & a b roa d
W
ith good reason,
the Norwegian state
has long remained
extremely protective
of its share of
Mother Nature from
reckless muckings about, enacting
draconian proscriptions (ie, no heliskiing, no waterside construction) to
ensure the country – and its brand –
remain untarnished. But one endeavour
today is challenging the conventional
Scandinavian wisdom that you can’t
always get what you want built in
the countryside.
Off the beaten path
Scandinavia’s
Photo credit here
sustainable chic
Two new cutting-edge projects in Norway and Sweden that
question our relationship to the environment are reminders that
the Nordic countries are still at the forefront of melding ecological
design and great living, says Roger Norum
Contact platinum card service for bookings DepartureS 23
Nature, a few people on skis and
Ålesund-born entrepreneur,
next to nothing in between.
landowner and consummate
Nor is the rest of Scandinavia any
outdoorsman Knut Slinning has
stranger to humans communing
teamed up with superstar architects
with their environment. Across the
Jensen & Skodvin on a unique – and
Swedish border lies Kosterhavet,
extremely functional, and extremely
the country’s first marine national
sexy – construction that proves
park, opened in September 2009
modern architecture can enhance
to safeguard wildlife and the
nature instead of detracting from
local shore fishing industry while
it. Opened this March, the Juvet
encouraging sustainable ecoLandscape Hotel (juvet.com) consists
tourism. The “park” is actually
of seven singular, freestanding rooms
450sq km of open ocean whose
carved out of spruce placed smack
high salinity and low temperature
in the Gudbrandsjuvet, a luxuriant
Hiking near Juvet
encourage the breeding of some
canyon deep in the fjords of
Kayaking in Kosterhaven
6,000 protected species of flora and
central Norway. The individual pod-like
fauna – several hundred of which are
structures, each built on 14 steel pylons
endemic to the region – including
bored half a metre into the bedrock, sport
stony coral, giant sponges, harbour seals
southwest-facing walls made entirely of
and Arctic terns.
double-glazed, dual-paned glass that give
I’m greeted at the ferry dock by
guests unfettered views to the gushing
bio-agronomists Stefan and Helena
Valldøla River below and the spectacular
von Bothmer, 15-year residents
alpine peaks that soar above it. The effect
of the Koster Islands and
is something like watching an IMAX
Sydkoster Hotel Ekenäs
two of Sweden’s most vocal
documentary about the world’s most
proponents of sustainable living
visually stunning places
and permaculture. Stefan leads
from your bedroom.
me through dense honeysuckle
Knut’s buildings communicate
and juniper woods and along a
the intimate relationship locals
windswept coastline of glowing yellow
have with their environment.
lichen that demarcates the westernmost
“Norway has always been
settled land in the country. Some 330
about doing things in nature,”
Swedes reside here year-round in seaside
Knut tells me proudly. “But
villages that are among Scandinavia’s
we wanted to have people
most handsome, sprinkled about with
better understand what being
swimming beaches, tiny brush forests,
Norwegian means today.” Thanks
clapboard cottages and a gem of a finto Juvet’s (pronounced YOO-vett)
de-siècle seaside resort in the Sydkoster
new architecture, you could hardly
live closer to the Norwegian woods
Hotell Ekenäs (sydkoster.se). Now that
the area is protected from gratuitous
if you burrowed into the ground and
industry, Koster is ideal for getting some
pitched a tent there – and you certainly
Nordic downtime before hiking, cycling
couldn’t live more comfortably. Inside,
and kayaking the surrounding islets – or
the extremely modern, minimalist rooms
scuba diving the many shipwrecks that
eschew bland Ikea-chic for deep, dark
line (and protect) the reef below.
woods, playful chartreuse bathrooms
These shallow coastal waters are also
and unique Japanese-Norwegian
home to cod, mackerel, oysters and
designed Stokke Tok recliners perched
A freestanding room at Juvet
Norwegian lobster – local delicacies that
voyeuristically to gaze out at the world.
Kosterhaven National Park
end up on the seasonal menus of many
The project also raises the bar for
island restaurants. At the von Bothmer’s
ecological sustainability, with an on-site
organic café, Koster Trädgårdar (kosterstradgardar.
restaurant that serves only locally sourced products,
se), Helena serves us a heaping feta salad with a
and a sleek all-natural spa, with sauna, steam and
dozen types of leaves and bright red strawberries
massage rooms. Naturally, there’s plenty to do outside
– all of it grown about five metres away in their
too, including rafting, canyoning and climbing – even
garden. Outside, a springtime bonfire fête at the
summertime glacier skiing. “When you go touring
seaside has drawn some particularly ravishing blond
in the Alps, you’ll stand in a line,” Knut, a longtime
representatives of the Swedish yachting fraternity.
fan of Switzerland, confides. “But at Juvet I can take
Healthy food, beautiful people and a pretty seamless
you to a summit where you’ll ski all the way down to
fellowship with the environment? Clearly they’re
the fjord – and you won’t meet a single person along
doing something right up North.
the way.” There’s modern Norway for you: Mother
24 Departures
Contact platinum card service for bookings
Photo credit here
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