Almost exactly five years ago, I was in the Norwegian town of Tromsø to speak at a conference called “Future North,” part of the annual Arctic Frontiers event.
One of the most interesting parts of my visit—and I do not say this to downplay the conference, but to indicate my enthusiasm for infrastructure—was this odd bit of traffic design: to get back and forth from Tromsø to its local airport by car, you have to pass through a sprawling underground tunnel network, complete with at least one subterranean roundabout carved into the roots of the mountain, a journey that, for someone newly arrived and jet-lagged like myself, seemed surreally endless (it probably took three minutes).
At the end of the journey, though, it gets stranger: you pop out of the ground floor of an otherwise nondescript building and turn directly onto a normal town road, passing through an opening that looks like an entrance to an underground parking garage.
These images, taken from Google Street View, show that building from the Tromsø side, peering into the mountain depths within. (Here is the tunnel entrance on Google Maps.)
While we’re on the subject of Norwegian tunnels, however, it would be a mistake not to mention the Lærdal Tunnel, allegedly “the longest road tunnel in the world.”
The tunnel is so long that, to address potential adverse effects on human neurology, it includes artificial caverns lit to invoke the Homeric glow of dawn.
[Image: The Lærdal Tunnel, photo by Patrick Reijnders, via Wikipedia.]
The design of the tunnel takes into consideration the mental strain on drivers, so the tunnel is divided into four sections, separated by three large mountain caves at 6-kilometre (3.7 mi) intervals. While the main tunnel has white lights, the caves have blue lighting with yellow lights at the fringes to give an impression of sunrise. The caves are meant to break the routine, providing a refreshing view and allowing drivers to take a short rest. The caverns are also used as turnaround points and for break areas to help lift claustrophobia during a 20-minute drive through the tunnel. In the tunnel, there is a sign on every kilometer indicating how many kilometers have already been covered, and also how many kilometers there are still to go. To keep drivers from being inattentive or falling asleep, each lane is supplied with a loud rumble strip towards the centre.
As another site mentions, “Since 1990, research has been carried out to study driver behavior in long road tunnels.” Of course, one wonders how extreme this research has gotten, perhaps suggesting a new story by Nick Arvin or J.G. Ballard. (The construction of the tunnel is also fascinating, involving lasers, GPS satellites, and computer-controlled drilling platforms.)
Tunnels that mimic sunrise, built to accommodate human neurology using artificial stars as reference points, emerging from the ground-floors of buildings in coastal towns.
Dream tunnels, perhaps just one floor beneath your apartment, leading deep into the mountains beyond.
(If you just can’t get enough Norwegian road tunnels, check out Kiln, previously on BLDGBLOG.)
8 thoughts on “Norwegian Dream Tunnels”
Hello, thanks for interesting point. You like tunnells, do check out the «Ryfast» and «Rogfast» projects here in Southwestern Norway, the first one just opened. Its s highway under the sea.
Thanks, Harald—I was just reading this morning about “the world’s first subsea half marathon,” which took place in the Ryfast tunnel in October 2019.
True, lots of people did this. They also had a religious service and a bike race there.
The next proposed tunnell project will be close to 25 km length under the seabed. Called «Rogfast». This is what Norwegians use some oil money on – and the Norwegian Sovereign Pension Fund.
This reminded me of a flash story I wrote in 2008: http://www.dailycabal.com/2008/07/highway_0.html
Seems spectacular, are there any pictures? I tried searching for «highway 0 oklahoma» but it didnt show any subterrean highway tunnells
Also reminds me of The City and The City by China Miéville where driving under a building is also driving into a new country. This transition is a change of mental state more than a strictly physical one.
this teaches me to read articles/posts as they come out, so I don’t miss openings and talks. but at least I can still see the exhibition. happy that I read this before March 15.
sorry posted on the wrong page (I had several tabs open): I intended to post this here https://bldgblog.com/2020/01/geoarchitecture/