Fearless, with Promising Prospects: Rest Stop in Gildeskål
The internet media have already described this new rest stop on the Norwegian tourist route as possibly the world’s most beautiful public toilet. Marit Haugen from the Haugen/Zohar architecture studio may not be happy about this, for her building project encompassed significantly more than a mere toilet shed. Nor is it the baser bodily functions that take centre stage in this spectacularly beautiful place in the province of Nordland. The view to the north extends over the Atlantic to the uninhabited island of Fugløya. On the mainland side of the coastal road, the steep cliffs of the coastal mountains rise upwards. The Uredplassen has long been popular with both tourists and locals as a place to view the northern lights and the midnight sun. The place takes its name from the Norwegian submarine Uredd (English: fearless) that sank off the coast during the Second World War. The vessel was located in 1985, but never raised. In 1987, a small monument was inaugurated at the current rest stop in memory of the 42 sailors who perished here.
The new rest stop was intended to provide the monument with a more generous frame – and of course, it was also meant to give the many tourists who pass by on their way north better access to the unique views. In their new design, Haugen/Zohar used three materials above all: concrete, frosted glass and Fauske marble, a vividly veined type of marble quarried in the eponymous town located around 80 kilometres farther north. From the marble benches to the concrete steps leading to the monument and the toilet shed, to the roof of the shed itself, all the shapes here seem to have been ground smooth by millennia of glaciers from the last ice age. The same can be said for the broad open stairway with seating steps that lead from the rest stop down to the stony beach. This is where visitors, somewhat sheltered from the noise of the traffic, can enjoy the view and perhaps even test the temperature of the Atlantic waves.