Tucked away in a chilly forest north of Oslo, Norway, lies a large solar observatory named Solobservatoriet (aka Harestua Solar Observatory). The observatory has been in use since the 1950s and is now getting a stunning upgrade courtesy of Snøhetta, the Norwegian firm behind the world's first ship tunnel and Europe's first underwater restaurant.
The most notable addition to the Solobservatoriet site will be a new 1,500 sq m (16,145 sq ft) planetarium. This eye-catching building will be topped by a green roof that's planted with grass, wild heather, blueberry and lingonberry bushes, helping it to blend in with the surrounding landscape.
At the planetarium's center will be a golden dome-shaped 100-seat viewing theater that's partly sunken into the ground and engraved with constellations. It will be used to educate visitors about astronomy and the night sky, as well as natural phenomena such as the Northern Lights. The planetarium will also include a reception, café and exhibition area, as well as a ramp allowing visitors to climb above onto the green roof and gaze at the stars.
Visitors will be able to stay on site courtesy of seven cabins scattered around the planetarium. These are envisioned as orbiting planets and will actually be shaped like planets, too. Each will feature its own distinctive design and some will be partly sunken into the ground. They will come in different sizes, with the smallest sleeping just two people and the largest sleeping 32.
"Through the design phase, the architects studied simple principles from astronomy," says Snøhetta. "The study inspired the design of the cabins which seemingly orbit around the planetarium, imitating how planets orbit around the Sun, inspiring a sense of wonder and surprise. Comfortably accommodating up to 118 guests in total, the facilities capture the imagination of its visitors through an intellectual, visual and tactile journey into the realm of astronomy."
A Snøhetta representative told us that construction on the project is expected to begin in 2019. Completion is expected by 2021.
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