Todd Saunders of Saunders Architecture has developed a strong portfolio of subtle and innovative projects over the past few years and whilst the unassuming architect does not go out of his way to make brash statements with his work to gain attention from critics, his rapidly growing collection of completed projects has not gone unnoticed by potential clients.
In what Wallpaper Magazine have recognised as Saunders’ ‘most creatively free project to date’ – a public attraction in the sleepy town of Sarpsborg, Norway – the architect was handpicked by clients who not only wanted his design input but also his aid in composing the project brief.
Saunders explains: “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. In a way I had to almost come up with the programme myself, it was very free and creative.”
The beautifully flat stretch of land designated for this undefined scheme is located near to a number of points of historical interest, including a forest laden with rock carvings which goes completely unnoticed by visitors, the majority of whom simply use the town as a stopover on their travels through to Sweden.
A major factor of this build was to highlight the value (and indeed the existence) of these artworks, hence seven small pavilions have been dotted across the external space with information on Bronze Age carvings alongside a permanent exhibition on the walls of a spiral ramp. A number of temporary exhibitions are also on show.
Saunders has also installed a single 30m tower within the plaza to enable visitors to view the surrounding countryside from an elevated position. The title of the tower is Solberg which translates to ‘Sun Mountain’. Whilst the tower itself looks to establish relationships between the visitors to the complex and the countryside in which it is nestled, the architect argues that the plaza’s close proximity to the road will not disrupt this process.
He explains: “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.”