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Northern Lights Cathedral

Alta/ Norway

Size/ 1,917 m²
Cost/ € 16,2 million incl.VAT
Competition/ 2001, 1st prize in restricted architecture competition
Status/ Construction period 2009 – 2013
Client/ The Municipality of Alta
Partner architect/ Link Arkitektur A/S
Engineer/ Rambøll AS, Alta
Main contractor/ Ulf Kivijervi AS
Other consultants/ Art work by Peter Brandes (DK)
Art/ Peter Brandes

The Cathedral of the Northern Lights is situated in the town of Alta, north of the polar circle – a project that takes its cue from the town’s strong identity as an observation post for the northern lights phenomenon. At the core of this thrust is the nave, the main seating area, whose atmosphere of meditative calm contrasts with the dynamic architectural idiom that is the buildings hallmark. The structure can accommodate 350 people in the church room, and includes administration offices, classrooms, exhibition areas and a parochial area.

Spiral-like, the church reaches upwards in a dynamic thrust, which extends from the landscaping below the hill and up through the principal form before culminating in the belfry, which marks its termination point.

The Cathedral church is made of raw concrete, titanium and wood, underpinning the key design concept: a church that resonates with its location.

The central point of the spiral – where the motion stops and the light streams in – is marked by the location of the baptismal font.

Irrespective of vantage point, with its focused thrust and idiom, the Cathedral of the Northern Lights stands out as an emblematic, sculptural composition.

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