Modest Structures: Zumthor’s Allmannajuvet Zinc Mine Museum

Allmannajuvet in Sauda and the abandoned zinc mines from the late 1800’s have inspired architect Peter Zumthor to create yet another historical art installation along the national tourist routes in Norway

Allmannajuvet, with its characteristic landscape and rich cultural history, is one of the 10 largest attractions along the National Tourist Routes. In 2002, architect Peter Zumthor was commissioned by the Norwegian Public Roads Administration to design a tourist route attraction for the purpose of welcoming visitors and bringing the old mining history of Sauda back to life. The simplistic buildings are inspired by the mining operation, the drudgery and the workers’ strenuous everyday lives. The installation consists of a museum building, a café building, toilet and parking facilities, paths and stairs.


All the buildings were prefabricated in Saudasjøen and then assembled in Allmannajuvet. The exterior support system consists of creosote impregnated laminated wood. The exterior walls of the building consist of 18 mm plywood sheets and jute burlap, coated with a German acrylic material (PMMA). The interior walls have been painted in a dark colour to resemble a gallery. The foundation work of the museum building and the café building, with its high demands for precision, is some of the most demanding work carried out in Norway. The parking facility has been masoned with natural stone from Hardanger. The stones were transported from Jondal to Sauda. The visible corner of the wall is approximately 18 metres tall and has been firmly fixed three metres to the riverbed.

In the summer of 2011, Steilneset Memorial in Vardø was opened. The attraction was a collaboration between Zumthor, artist Louise Bourgeois and historian Liv Helene Willumsen. While Steilneset was raised in memory of the people in Finnmark who fell victim to the government’s witchcraft persecutions in the 1600s, Allmannajuvet emerges as a monument of the mining operation and the miners' life of hardship in the late 1800s.

The National Tourist Routes attraction comprises 18 selected drives through beautiful Norwegian scenery, where the experience is enhanced by innovative architecture and thought-provoking art. The tourist routes are varied and travel through areas with unique qualities of nature, along coasts and fiords, mountains and waterfalls.


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