The Northern Light Cathedral, Alta
The Cathedral of the Northern Lights (Nordlyskatedralen) was consecrated by Bishop Per Oskar Kjølaas on February 10, 2013. The building is inspired by the Northern Lights, and is Europe’s northernmost cathedral. Its host city, Alta, can now boast an exceptional architectural landmark evoking the poetry and beauty of the Northern Lights.
The cathedral is located in central Alta, at the end of a pedestrian mall, and will in time be surrounded by parkland. The cathedral will function as a new meeting place, where events big and small will take place throughout the year.
The cathedral’s coiling body and spire stretches 47m towards the heavens, and is inspired by the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis), which has given the cathedral its name. H.R.H. Crown Princess Mette Marit and several other prominent guests attended the consecration of the titanium-clad structure, Norway’s newest and most spectacular church.
Link Arkitektur participated in a pre-qualification round and subsequently won the design competition together with Schmidt Hammer Lassen architects, invited by LINK Arkitektur to participate as part of the design team
The client expressed a clear desire to create an architectural landmark inspired by the Northern Lights right from the project’s inception. The building assumed the name ‘Cathedral of the Northern Lights’ as early as 2001. LINK responded to the design brief with a robust concept and a clear two-dimensional symbolic idea; the coiling structure’s dynamic where the movement represents the relationship between God and Mankind, and Mankind and God. A space for quiet prayer and worship is located in the eye of the coil.
The design and construction of the curves and sloping concrete walls was extremely demanding, and countless variations of form lead to extreme technical challenges.
The project was constantly refined throughout the design phase, producing a spectacular finished product; a titanium-clad sculpture evoking the spirit of the Northern Lights and capturing the unique light found in Alta throughout the year. Tension between the enormous sky, filled with the swirling Northern Lights, and the coiling structure’s upturned form culminates in the cathedral’s 47m high spire. The shifting appearance of the Northern Lights is reflected in the titanium-clad curves of the cathedral’s façade. The structure expresses itself as an isolated sculpture in harmony with the majestic surrounding landscape.
Cathedral of the Northern Lights’ official website: http://www.nordlyskatedral.no/