The Norwegian Wild Reindeer Pavilion
Viewpoint Snøhetta (also known in Norwegian as Tverrfjellhytta) is located on the outskirts of the Dovrefjell-Sunndalsfjella National Park, overlooking the mountain Snøhetta. The building is open to the public during the summer months, serving both as an observation pavilion for the Norwegian Wild Reindeer Foundation and as a hub for the foundation's educational programs.
With a weathered wooden exterior and an organic wooden interior, nature is brought into the space while providing shelter for visitors enjoying the spectacular view. A 1.5-kilometer hiking trail leads visitors to the site, setting the stage and building expectation as you approach the vast landscapes ahead.
Norsk villreinsenter (Norwegian Wild Reindeer Foundation)
Structural engineer: Dr. Techn. Kristoffer Apeland AS, Trond Gundersen
Main contractor: Prebygg AS
Subcontractor steel: Lonbakken AS
Subcontractor glass: Skandinaviska Glassystem AB
Contractor, wood: Djupevaag Ship Builders AS
2 Preserving history
The Dovrefjell mountains hold a unique place in the Norwegian consciousness and history through a wide range of tales and myths connected to the mountains. From Ibsen’s 19th-century poem “Peer Gynt” to the 2022 Netflix film “Troll”, Dovrefjell has been the source of storytelling for centuries.
It is also home to Europe's last wild reindeer herds and the natural habitat for many rare plants and animals, including the muskox. However, a long history of travelers, hunting, mining, and military activities has left its marks on the landscape, and there was a need to protect and preserve. The project was therefore developed with a focus on minimizing the interventions in nature while maximizing the experience for visitors.
3 At one with nature
Nature and natural life have been given priority in the design. A solid rectangular frame of raw steel makes the shelter. The wide glass façade invites nature into the pavilion, giving visitors a feeling of being in one with nature.
The wooden core is shaped like rock or ice eroded by natural forces such as wind or running water. The undulating shapes of the interior stretch out to the back of the building, doubling as an exterior wall and seating. The centered fireplace lets visitors enjoy the breathtaking nature and occasional bypassing reindeer from a warm shelter.
4 Technology and tradition
The pavilion is designed to endure and withstand harsh climates. Considerable emphasis has been put on the quality and durability of materials while ensuring that the building blends well into the landscape as the exterior weathers.
The results were achieved by combining newer technologies and traditional craftsmanship. The wooden core was manufactured using a large-scale CNC mill, shaped based on digital 3D models before it was mounted using traditional log building techniques.
Photos by Jon Andreas Klokkehaug
5 A trail through the landscape
A visit to Viewpoint Snøhetta starts already at the car parking. The parking is framed by fencing inspired by that used to capture wild reindeer more than 800 years ago. From the parking, a 1.5-kilometer-long graveled trail meanders up the mountain, leading to the pavilion on the top of the hill. Along the trail, you can learn about the history of Dovrefjell through a curated exhibition created on a series of slate stone slabs.