Seljord Lakefront, Telnes Peninsula, Norway

Source: Jenny Osuldsen


Feste Landscape Architects
Rintala Eggertsson Architects

Type of Area

Natural lake

Land/water interaction

Flood plains
Marsh land
Stony beach

Built Environment Types

Complete nature

Scale of Impact


Intervention Scale (Spatial)

Multiple small sites

Project Types

Outdoor recreation
Cultural heritage restoration

Urban/ Rural

Rural hinterland

Visibility and Openness

Partly enclosed
Partly contained view

Myths and Legends

Seljord Lake and its surrounding areas are rich in legends that springs from a lively oral tradition. This intangible cultural heritage is central to the design which connects the local stories and legends to the landscape through art and culture, allowing people to experience them. 

The project has three aims: to encourage travellers to stop; to be a meeting place for local inhabitants and tell the stories and legends of the lake serpent. The storytelling aims to capture the attention of visitors using specially designed signs and listening posts. The signs have maps and information related to the legends and mobile telephones are used to tell the story.

The design involves many small-scale interventions, which aims to capture the spirit of the place through physical adjustments to the local geological and topographical settings. Small wooden bridges were built to connect across inaccessible rocks and lead down to the lake shore. The wooden bridges were carefully wedged into the cracks in the bedrock to keep the open landscape view. There is a fishing point with a shelter and fireplace. Viewpoints, consisting of six hexagonal boxes were created on the hillsides on the edge of the forest to provide sheltered scenic views over most of the lake and the valley. 

A sauna was built along the coast and a ramp provides easy access to it. The largest intervention is the 15m high observation tower, close to the centre of Seljord. The tower features viewing platforms, offering breath-taking views across the lake and an opportunity to travellers to pause and contemplate. Each of the constructions used wood as a primary construction material and painted black to better integrate into the landscape. 

Recreational activities also include boating, swimming, hiking, walking and nature watching. The facilities include picnicking areas, seating for resting and viewing and many other active and passive forest recreation. 

Perception and Meaning

Sense of place
Place identity
Genius loci

Health and Wellbeing

Increased physical activities
Aesthetic experience
Sense of being away

Interaction with Water

Tactile: touching
Tactile – fully in water

The ratings for this project are low for all means of accessibility. This is understandable considering the challenging terrain of the site, although this is an improvement on its undeveloped state, with bridges to connect walkable areas. Design quality is high except for maintenance which appears to be costly given the structures and the terrain as well as the climate and what it can do to wooden decks etc.

The facilities are very specific to the design – it is not a park with a general range of facilities or activities, only has certain ones to match the functions included in the design. The external site visibility is deliberately low, with buildings painted black to merge into the background. The difficult terrain also influences the ability of people to circulate around the site. The range of facilities are rated low, but the focus on the site is to provide people with contact with nature and so it is understandably limited.

Health and well-being potential, however, is generally rated excellent, especially in terms of contact with nature and sense of being away, although safety is an issue, again due to the terrain. There is a very strong sense of Genius loci too. Generally, the interventions on site facilitate a connection to the water, such as the bridges to provide better access but it is not so safe or easy to provide direct contact and activities on or in the water at this location due to the rocky terrain.