Snøhetta, planetarium, solar, observatory, design, architecture, Norway, Oslo, MICE, groups, hotel

Norway rebuilds site for astronomy fans

The designers of the site took lessons in astronomy and aim to build a visually striking attraction.

Architects at the company Snøhetta are designing Norway’s largest astronomical facility, Discover Scandinavia reports, and the fact that it “will look like a glowing planet” is certain to attract tourists. There will also be unique hotel rooms to stay in.

The expansion includes a visitor centre, and when complete in 2020 the 1,500sqm observatory will be the biggest of its kind north of the Alps. The architects want to achieve the seemingly impossible effect of being surrounded by nature on Earth while being in space.

The facility is set in a forest 70 kilometres north of Oslo and will include structures inspired by planets and orbits, designed to become a spectacular destination for astronomy fans.

Solobservatoriet in Harestua was originally built for a total solar eclipse in 1954 and was later used by the US military to spy on Soviet satellites during the Cold War.

Now it is run by Tycho Brahe, an institution with a mission to enlighten the public about the universe as well as make scientific research.

Once finished, the planetarium will resemble a “glowing planet”, while the dome of the 100-seat “heavenly viewing theatre” will be planted with wild heather, blueberry and lingonberry bushes. The designers at Snøhetta even took classes in astronomy.

Solar system hotel rooms
Accommodation on site with custom-built furniture will be able to cope with groups of up to 32 people, and their circular cabins will be set around the planetarium.

Snøhetta thinks that its redesign will transform Solobservatoriet into an international destination.

“A cabin can rise slightly above the ground, be partially sunken or just touch the ground like a kiss, creating a planetary system on the site,” explains Ingebjørg Skaare, a senior architect at Snøhetta. “The intact landscape on the site is one of the most important qualities for the experience.”

Related stories

World’s first energy-positive Arctic Hotel

Norway attracts tourists with viewpoint design

New attractions drive New Zealand growth