A construction site with tourists strolling around amongst workers and heavy machinery is unusual. For construction company Mesta though, this was a reality during the recent redevelopment of the area around famous Norwegian waterfall Vøringsfossen.
Situated in western Norway along Norwegian Scenic Routes, an initiative seeking to combine the country’s nature, architecture and design, the waterfall is the most visited in the country. Every year, around half a million Norwegian and international tourists come to take in the spectacular views.
Unfortunately, the area has been the scene of several accidents, including fatal ones. To avoid more of these, the waterfall and surrounding area is undergoing substantial work, securing the 200-metre gorge and upgrading the surrounding area in general.
Do not look down
Following a tendering process, Mesta was named as the main contractor for phase 1 of the project. After several years of planning and nearly three years of construction, the new facilities were finished this summer.
The development included eight viewing platforms, three bridges, access roads, improved disability access and an upgrade of the parking facilities. The project’s largest steel construction is a bridge with a span of 24 metres and a weight of close to 18 tonnes.
“This was a very unusual job in many ways. The area is a tourist attraction and tourists still had access whilst we were working. Additionally, for large parts of the project, we were literally working on the edge of a cliff. Both of these facts meant that it was a project where a high degree of accuracy was necessary,” says Construction Manager in Mesta, Atle Stana.
The development had to adhere to demands and expectations both related to safety and aesthetics. Stana says that several of the requirements they needed to meet where higher than what is usual for a project, both when it came to accuracy, quality and execution.
“The impact on the surrounding nature was to be as small as possible. By the time of the official opening, it was preferable that there were no signs of construction work at all,” he says.
Uncovering problems before they arise
In order to meet the demands, Mesta utilised Powel’s Gemini Terrain (Gemini Terreng) solution. This was used both for engineering and planning in advance as well as for on-site follow-up during the actual construction phase. The possibility for surface analysis proved especially useful.
“We received DWG-models from the architects and used Gemini Terrain in order to do various testing in advance of the construction. Here, we could enter models for quality control and we also used the software to extract stake-out data from the model,” Stana explains.
One very important aspect of the project was to ensure that the structures where placed nicely and as integrated as possibly in the surrounding terrain.
“In Gemini Terrain, we were able to see whether the various elements would fit in the terrain as we had planned, before we started the actual work. Where we uncovered problems, we were able to make adjustments before starting the work,” says Stana. “A lot of work in the terrain was measured to ensure we got the desired effect and that everything was placed as we imagined.”
The new main facilities at Vøringsfossen were opened in July 2018. There are two phases left of the whole project, which is set to be finalised around 2023.
When Aas-Jakobsen, COWI, and Nordic Office of Architecture were designing the new Stavanger University Hospital, they realised that they needed a more advanced solution to manage the large and complex building pit models. They asked Powel Construction for assistance.