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Design og arkitektur Norge Design and Architecture Norway

Inclusive Design - a people centred strategy for innovation

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Vision of the Fjords

The sightseeing boat ‘Vision of the Fjords’ is the first boat to be built according to the new ‘Seasight’ concept of Brødrene Aa AS, which was engineered on an inclusive design foundation. The boat is a hybrid and one-hundred per cent emission-free when run on batteries.


“We were experiencing a situation where we had the most stunning nature in the world, but were offering guests from around the world, boat trips with outdated ferries. It wasn’t good for tourists or the environment, so this was something we had to address. Fjord1 was in the same situation when they contacted us. We quickly agreed to enter into a joint venture to build new boats for sustainable tourism on the fjords. Three professional organisations from Sogn og Fjordane are behind this spectacular innovation, “ says Solrun Hjelleflat, Managing Director of Flåm AS.


Flåm AS specifically requested that universal design was embedded within the project, as people with a range of abilities are often disregarded by tourist attractions in favour of able-bodied customers. The ship designer immediately mapped movement patterns of people when on-board and used this as a starting point to create an equal experience for all passengers. They drew a spiral which later became an external ramp to avoid having a lift on the boatThe Norwegian Association of Disabled? was also involved early on to test the solutions and ideas

The boat designers wanted to break away from a stagnant pattern in order to create an uncompromising design that meets future challenges within universal design, boat building and tourismThis also resulted in an idea that was more sustainable – economically, environmentally and also socially. It includes tourists of all ages and abilities within the context of an environmentally friendly operation. To achieve innovation on all fronts, a completely different mindset was required. 


Visually, the boat is a radical and pioneering design that could become a modern icon. The external ramps and airy interior with large panoramic windows give a sense of equality without aesthetic compromise. They make it possible for everyone to use the entire boat and enjoy the view side-by-side, regardless of their functional ability.

Very few shipbuilders have considered boats in this way before. The design has a unique form inspired by associations with waves, the Troll Ladder and nature trails – all drawn from rich local history. The external gangway is a strong conceptual design, which innovatively solves the problem of mobility by allowing passengers with wheelchairs, strollers or reduced mobility to embark and disembark in an efficient and non-stigmatising manner.

All counters and loudspeaker systems have hearing loops, and the eating area has also been designed to maximise access. It is intuitive and easy for all passengers to orientate themselves around the interior, which does not need to include special arrangements for those with reduced mobility. On the contrary, the boat is naturally inclusive and atmospherically pleasing with spacious furnishing and defined walking zones.  


Vision of The Fjords from Design og arkitektur Norge on Vimeo.

Airy interior with large panoramic windows give a sense of equality without aesthetic compromise.

There is not a single step or stair on the entire boat.