Architect team: schmidt hammer lassen architects, Link Arkitektur A/S
Client: The Municipality of Alta
Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects has paid homage to the northern lights by constructing a titanium-clad cathedral that spirals up towards the sky.
Danish studio Schmidt Hammer Lassen teamed up with Scandinavian firm Link Arkitektur to design the Cathedral of the Northern Lights in Alta, a Norwegian town located 300 miles north of the Arctic Circle.
The cathedral was conceived as a public attraction for tourists visiting the natural light display, officially known as the Aurora Borealis, which occurs when particles from the sun collide with the earth’s magnetic field. It can be observed frequently between late autumn and early spring.
With a spiralling body, the cathedral winds up to form a pointed belfry 47 metres above the ground.
The Cathedral of the Northern Lights is a landmark, which through its architecture symbolises the extraordinary natural phenomenon of the Arctic northern lights.
Shimmering titanium clads the exterior and was added to reflect the vivid green colours of the lights as they flicker across the sky.
The cathedral reflects, both literally and metaphorically, the northern lights: ethereal, transient, poetic and beautiful. It appears as a solitary sculpture in interaction with the spectacular nature.
The spiralling form continues inside the building, where offices, classrooms and exhibition areas wrap around a 350-person hall, which will be used for church congregations.
This isn’t the first time the northern lights have provided the inspiration for architecture. Henning Larsen Architects and artist Olafur Eliasson drew inspiration from the lights when designing the Harpa Concert and Conference Centre in Reykjavík, Iceland.
A number of architectural projects have been completed in the northern parts of Norway in recent years. Peter Zumthor built a memorial to commemorate suspected witches, while Reiulf Ramstad Architects has added platforms high up in the Norwegian mountains.
Photography is by Adam Mørk.