“There’s an otherworldly quality to some of the work of Norwegian architecture firm Snøhetta that makes me suspect some of its designers aren’t of this world, either.” So begins Jesus Diaz commentys in Co.Design on Snøhetta’s release last week of Solobervatoriet – its new planetarium and visitor center in Harestua outside og Oslo.
The 1500 square meter observatory, built for Tyco Brahe Institute, has a giant dome at its center, “orbited” by 7 semi-spherical buildings – or ‘planets’ – connected by walkways through the forest. The golden cuopola is said to be inspired by Archimedes’ original planetarium built around 250 B.C. The design has certainly inspired Diaz:
“Because they’re all different sizes and heights, the design creates the illusion that some of these buildings have just landed, and others are emerging from the ground to meet them. My favorite part? The smallest planet has two beds where visitors can spend a night looking at the very real stars above it. I need a full week of that, now.”
Quartz: “A spectacular destination”
Solobservatoriet in the Harestua woods was originally built for the total solar eclipse in 1954 and was used for spying for Soviet satellites during the Cold War. It is operated by the Tycho Brahe institute, whose mission it is to perform scientific research and enlighten the public about the wonders of the universe. Quartz calls it a “spectacular destination” and relates how in search of inspiration, Snøhetta’s designers took astronomy classes and, in plain archispeak, “were captivated by the architecture of the galaxy”:
“We learned about the eight shaped analemma diagram that the moon and the sun makes if you watch them from the same point over 365 days,” senior architect Ingebjørg Skaare says to Quartz. “We were especially inspired by the ‘ugly moons’ of Mars, with its funny shape,” she says referring Phobos and Deimos, the red-planet’s two lumpy satellites that inspired the visitor cabins.
CNN: Star-studded escape
CNN Travel reports that Norway, while a small country, has been creative and clever in building an observatory that was one of the world’s premier for solar physics in the ’60s. These days, CNN is more excited about the seven “constellation” cabins for overnight guests which seem to orbit around the planetarium. Each will have a distinct personality – one might be made of glass, another of wood. After running through the different seasons, they choose autumn to visit when it opens in 2 years. Quoting Vegard Lundby Rekaa, lead astronomer of Tycho Brahe Institute:
“Autumn is not too cold, yet it’s still quite dark. You have all the different stars coming up and you have different constellations, galaxies and star clusters visible in the autumn versus the springtime.”