Architecture

Titanium Cathedral of the Northern Lights opens deep within the Arctic Circle

Titanium Cathedral of the Nort...
The titanium-clad Cathedral of the Northern Lights (Photo: Adam Mørk/schmidt hammer lassen)
The titanium-clad Cathedral of the Northern Lights (Photo: Adam Mørk/schmidt hammer lassen)
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The titanium-clad Cathedral of the Northern Lights (Photo: Adam Mørk/schmidt hammer lassen)
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The titanium-clad Cathedral of the Northern Lights (Photo: Adam Mørk/schmidt hammer lassen)
The belfry stands 47 meters (154 ft) above ground level (Photo: Adam Mørk/schmidt hammer lassen)
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The belfry stands 47 meters (154 ft) above ground level (Photo: Adam Mørk/schmidt hammer lassen)
The Cathedral has been built in the Norwegian town of of Alta (Photo: Adam Mørk/schmidt hammer lassen)
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The Cathedral has been built in the Norwegian town of of Alta (Photo: Adam Mørk/schmidt hammer lassen)
The cathedral covers an area of 1,917 sq m (20,634 sq ft) (Photo: Adam Mørk/schmidt hammer lassen)
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The cathedral covers an area of 1,917 sq m (20,634 sq ft) (Photo: Adam Mørk/schmidt hammer lassen)
The building is clad entirely in titanium (Photo: Adam Mørk/schmidt hammer lassen)
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The building is clad entirely in titanium (Photo: Adam Mørk/schmidt hammer lassen)
Titanium was chosen for its brilliance, in order to reflect the Aurora Borealis (Photo: Adam Mørk/schmidt hammer lassen)
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Titanium was chosen for its brilliance, in order to reflect the Aurora Borealis (Photo: Adam Mørk/schmidt hammer lassen)
The Cathedral at dusk (Photo: Adam Mørk/schmidt hammer lassen)
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The Cathedral at dusk (Photo: Adam Mørk/schmidt hammer lassen)
The cathedral seats a congregation of 350 (Photo: Adam Mørk/schmidt hammer lassen)
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The cathedral seats a congregation of 350 (Photo: Adam Mørk/schmidt hammer lassen)
The cathedral seats a congregation of 350 (Photo: Adam Mørk/schmidt hammer lassen)
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The cathedral seats a congregation of 350 (Photo: Adam Mørk/schmidt hammer lassen)
Alta lies about 500 km (311 miles) inside the Arctic Circle (Photo: Adam Mørk/schmidt hammer lassen)
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Alta lies about 500 km (311 miles) inside the Arctic Circle (Photo: Adam Mørk/schmidt hammer lassen)
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On Monday, international architect schmidt hammer lassen announced the inauguration of the Cathedral of the Northern Lights in Alta, Norway, some 500 km (311 miles) inside the Arctic Circle. The metallic spiral form of the building, actually clad in titanium, almost resembles a piece of industrial rather than architectural design.

In 2001, the town of Alta launched a competition calling for a new church that would also stand as an architectural icon for the region. schmidt hammer lassen answered the call and, working alongside Link Arkitektur, came up with the unusual design.

The main body of the building spirals up in decreasingly-sized tiers which finally culminate in a tubular spire, with a belfry 47 meters (154 ft) above the ground. Daylight enters the building through slender oblong windows which are arranged something like the black keys on a church organ.

The cathedral covers an area of 1,917 sq m (20,634 sq ft) and seat a congregation of 350, though the church also includes administration areas, exhibition space and classrooms.

Titanium has several properties that make it desirable, if not exactly practical, as a building material. It's strong, relatively light, brilliant and resistant to corrosion. These last characteristics would have been particular desirable to the designers, as the cathedral is intended to literally reflect the Aurora Borealis.

“The cathedral reflects, both literally and metaphorically, the northern lights: ethereal, transient, poetic and beautiful,” said John F. Lassen (who puts the lassen into schmidt hammer lassen). “It appears as a solitary sculpture in interaction with the spectacular nature.”

But before we create the impression that titanium is a construction wonder-material, it has its down sides. The metal does not occur naturally in elemental form, and is costly and intensive to produce.

Titanium cladding was used extensively at Bilbao's Guggenheim Museum.

Source: schmidt hammer lassen, via Archinect

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5 comments
BigGoofyGuy
IMO; that is a beuatiful cathedral. I think it is really cool.
Chuck Anziulewicz
It's an interesting piece of architecture, and yet I can't help but wonder if it's an effort to out-do the Arctic Cathedral in Tromsø: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arctic_Cathedral
MBadgero
If so, Chuck, they did it.
JimRD
Looks like a modern version of the Tower of Babel.
Bruce H. Anderson
This seems similar to the Indepence Temple associated with The Community of Christ (RLDS). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Community_of_Christ