Norway town beams light into central square

Richard Orange
Richard Orange - [email protected]
Norway town beams light into central square
Øystein Haugan, who led the committee campaigning for the project, bathed in sun during testing last week - Tore Meek / NTB Scanpix

A town in Norway will next week begin beaming light down into its central square from giant mirrors placed on a surrounding mountainside, bringing winter sun for the first time in its 100-year history.


Rjukan, a town of 3,500 people situated 100 miles west of Oslo, is nestled so deep in a west-facing valley that it is completely cut off from sunlight for six months of the year. 
Now its central square will be bathed in a 500 square metre patch of light for as long as the sun shines on the hills above. 
"The idea was just to make a place in Rjukan where people will come to have a bit of sun. It's for the pale little children of Rjukan," Martin Andersen, the local artist who campaigned for the project told The Local. "
He said the three heliostats will track the sun to keep light permanently focused on the town. 
"It will be strongest in the middle, and will get weaker and weaker out to the edges," said Andersen. "You will have the sensation of sun when you are in the middle. You will feel the heat and you will see shadows." 
The project, which has cost about five million kroner ($845,000), was partly paid for by Norsk Hydro, the power generator which established the town in 1905, partly by the local municipality, and partly by Koro, Norway's public art body. 
Andersen said that once he began to research the project, he realised it had been proposed as a solution to the town's sunless winters by Sam Eyde, the industrialist who founded Norsk Hydro and also built the town. 
The mirrors were tested last Friday, and will begin operating fully after the opening ceremony on October 31st. 
"The attention just before its opening is enormous. It spreads everywhere and it's making people happy," Andersen said. 
"It's sort of a magical place," he said, explaining why he'd moved to the town from Oslo. "It's a small town in the bottom of a very deep valley. It has a sort of magic atmosphere."  


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