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© Steinar Skaar
© Steinar Skaar
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Are These the Best Designed Toilets on Earth?

Picture of Charlotte Luxford
Home & Design Editor
Updated: 5 July 2017
The side of a waterfall might not be the obvious place for a bathroom, nor does this striking building look like a restroom, but Nordic firm Fortunen went all out to create an award-winning design that blends into its jaw-dropping surroundings.
© Steinar Skaar / Statens vegvesen

Perched close by to the beautiful Skjervsfossen waterfall, the building – which consists of two bathrooms and a compact technical room – is designed to offer not just a convenient pitstop for passing travellers, but to create a ‘unique and surprising experience’, according to the Norwegian architects.

© Steinar Skaar

The focal point of the breathtaking landscape near Voss is the river Storelvi, which runs through rolling hills and dramatically drops 150 metres into the waterfall.

The angular design, which teeters on the water’s edge, mimics the steep, jagged terrain of the rocky hillside, yet traditional craftsmanship and a sensitive approach to the materials used, including local stone cladding, give it a timeless appeal.

© Steinar Skaar / Statens vegvesen

Once inside the service building, the landscape still takes centre stage, with huge floor-to-ceiling panes of glass offering spectacular views of the dramatic mountainous landscape, lush-green forests and skyline beyond, plus part of the floor is glazed, so you can watch the river flow beneath your feet.

Courtesy of Fortunen
Courtesy of Fortunen

As a distinct contrast to the dark, rocky exterior, the internal spaces have been clad in a rich, warm plywood, offering temporary respite from the elements.

© Pål Hoff

The landscape design of the surrounding area was expertly curated by Østengen & Bergo, which made the awkward, steep terrain accessible to visitors by creating a discreet and winding trail of natural stone which connects the major pinpoints of the area surrounding Skjervsfossen.

© Pål Hoff

Fortunen has managed to master the perfect blend of contemporary sculptural design and thoughtful sensitivity, ensuring that the building sits harmoniously in its natural habitat without competing with it. As a result, the company won the World Architecture News Small Spaces Award 2016 for the design.

© Jarle Waehler