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GPA wins large Norwegian infrastructure project


Gottlieb Paludan Architects (GPA) has won the design competition to produce Europe’s longest Bus Rapid Transit system. The winning proposal is an overall concept for the entire ambitious public infrastructure project, Bussveien (The Bus Route), in and around Stavanger in Norway. Bussveien, which is slated for completion around 2021, will be about 50 kilometres in total and have nearly 90 stops.

The infrastructure project Bussveien will be performed in collaboration with Rogaland County Council and the Norwegian Public Roads Administration, Region West. It is a so-called Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system, where trolleybuses run in a dedicated lane. The BRT system combines the high capacity and speed of the tram with the flexibility and lower capital expenditure of the bus.

GPA’s winning proposal Den Røde Tråden (The Red Thread) brings together stops, adjacent urban spaces and technical installations into one integrated design solution. Bussveien will be Europe’s longest BRT system with 50 kilometres of dedicated bus lane and it will have a massive impact on the travel patterns in the region.

Den Røde Tråden – a modular design concept
GPA’s design concept is based on a few well-conceived ideas and clever detailing – discreet enough to fit in at many locations and sufficiently distinctive to be recognizable as parts of Bussveien. The modular geometry is also reflected in the furniture, surfaces, catenary masts, etc. and constitutes a visual reference to punctuality and precision. 

The lengths of shelters and platforms may be adapted to the expected numbers of passengers to and from any given stops. In this way, local adaptations become part of the general image and variations are created within the framework of the overall design.  

Durable materials, accessibility for all and bicycle parking
The daily wear and tear is huge within public transport. For this reason, the technical details and materials selected for Den Røde Tråden make creative use of the fact that materials invariably patinate and mellow. GPA proposes that the materials are extracted and processed locally to interpret the landscape of the region. Granite, for example, has been selected as a recurrent material and it will alternate with the rust-coloured COR-TEN steel, a reference to the prevalence of tiled roofs in the area. The glazed sections of the shelters at the individual stops will feature giant graphics, communicating local stories from the particular locality.

A key priority of the project is to ensure easy access for people with disabilities. Other priorities include straightforward layout and an environment engendering a sense of security among all users with the aid of a simple spatial hierarchy and good lighting. Mixed-mode commuting is supported by providing well integrated bicycle parking facilities at the ends of platforms.

The panel of judges attaches the following comments to the winning proposal Den Røde Tråden:
“The panel highlights the simplicity of the proposal as a very positive feature with regard to both the design and the materials as well as the combinations of materials. The project has charm and elegance, making you want to start using it straight away. It will provide a strong identity for Bussveien and a recognition effect in the entire Stavanger region.  The proposal is well conceived and comes together as a credible solution in terms of not only the design but also distinctive style and organization. The solution is open, simple and forward-looking with an architectural twist that makes it stand out. The combination of sculptural clean lines and the COR-TEN material turns the individual stops into urban space “jewels”,  adding value to the environment in the individual urban and landscape areas. The authors of the proposal have used the local setting as their starting point: local elements of construction and the natural environment as well as local materials, and via an abstraction of these sources of inspiration, they have created an impressive and beautifully simple project.”

Infrastructure specialists
As specialists in architectural solutions for infrastructure projects, GPA has extensive experience designing public transport installations. GPA has specialist expertise in intermodal transport and focuses on passenger flow and security, integration into urban and landscape contexts and forward-looking design. In Den Røde Tråden, GPA draws on its years of experience optimizing traffic and passenger flows which result in shorter travelling times and improved en-route experiences.

GPA was founded more than a century ago and has amassed great knowledge and knowhow on large, complex projects in densely developed contexts, where daily life must go on during the construction process.

The municipalities of Stavanger, Sandnes and Sola are all situated in the county of Rogaland and make up Norway’s third largest urban area with 226,700 residents. Particularly Stavanger and Sola have high proportions of commuters. Stage 1 of the Bussveien project will get to work on the bus lane between Sandnes in the south, via the centre of Stavanger, to Risavika in the north with an expected opening of mid-2021. Stage 2 which will run between Stavanger and Risavika is slated for opening in 2023.

Rogaland County Council and the Norwegian Public Roads Administration, Region West 

2016, first prize, international open competition