Snøhetta look to the stars for planetarium and visitor centre in Norway inspired by the night sky

It’s a celestial theatre that represents over two millennia of astronomical advance and scientific progress, echoing the world’s very first planetarium which was conceived by Archimedes around 250 B.C.
– Snøhetta

International architects Snøhetta have designed a new planetarium and a visitor centre for Norway’s largest astronomical facility by studying the night sky for design inspiration.

Nestled in the dense forest of Harestua, 45km north of Oslo, Solobservatoriet is the largest solar observatory North of the Alps. Its original observatory was built by the University of Oslo for the total solar eclipse of 1954, and a satellite tracking station was established by the US Air Force during the Cold War to monitor Soviet activity, before being decommissioned in the 1980s.

The Tycho Brahe Institute, named after the 16th century Danish scientist and founder of modern observational astronomy, is bankrolling the new project, turning the site into a visitor attraction. It commissioned Snøhetta to create a design that inspires a sense of wonder and curiosity, “as if the architecture itself was asking the question: ‘Where does the Universe come from?’”

The design team have embraced the interstellar theme by spreading the visitor centre’s amenities across a series of scattered cabins, each shaped like a small planet. The surfaces of these buildings will be clad with rough or smooth materials; some will appear to be halfway driven into the ground, while others will gently rest on the forest floor.

These different facilities will offer a range of scientific activities within astronomy, sun studies and natural science for “researchers, school children, retirees and international tourists.” Six of the planets alternate between 8 and 10m in diameter and can accommodate up to 10 and 32 people respectively. The smallest, ‘Zolo’, is a two-bed cabin, 6m in diameter, allowing select visitors to sleep under the stars.

The planetarium will be 1,500sq m (16,100sq ft) in size, and situated next to the observatory's original research tower. It will be orbited, like the Sun, by the ‘planet’ cabins.

The visitor experience, which will accommodate up to 118 guests, will be “an intellectual, visual and tactile journey into the realm of astronomy,” Snøhetta claimed in a statement.

Explaining their design, they added: “The planetarium is the first object that catches the eye when arriving at the facility by foot, via trails though the woodland with its grazing sheep. It’s a celestial theatre that represents over two millennia of astronomical advance and scientific progress, echoing the world’s very first planetarium which was conceived by Archimedes around 250 B.C.

“The sinuous roof is lushly planted with grass, wild heather, blueberry and lingonberry bushes, curling up from the ground. Wrapping around the golden cupola, the living roof functions as a cross between landscape and built structure that visitors can stroll on to gaze up at the starry sky. Half-sunken into the ground, the three-story theatre emerges from the earth as an orb engraved with constellations, gradually revealing itself as people approach.”

A 100-seat auditorium will feature inside the planetarium, from which visitors can watch realistically projected stars, planets and celestial objects. A reception, café and exhibition area are also planned, while a gently swirling ramp will lead up to an exhibition mezzanine and an outdoor roofscape. Below ground, there will be a large, bowl-shaped children’s activity centre.

The new-look Solobservatoriet will join a host of new planetariums, that are currently in development around the world.

Ennead Architects recently released a video glimpse of their 38,000sq m (409,000sq ft) planetarium for the Shanghai Science and Technology Museum, and images have been released for a new attraction at Edmonton’s Telus World of Science, which will boast a higher screen resolution than any other planetarium in the world.

Meanwhile, Dutch design agency NorthernLight are turning the old media centre at Sochi’s Olympic Village into a science and art park with a planetarium, Buffalo State College in New York is opening a public planetarium as part of a US$35.5m expansion; and the world’s highest planetarium is set to launch at the Tibet Museum of Natural Sciences in 2019.

Late last year, a 150-year-old gas storage facility on St Petersburg’s Obvodny Canal was fully transformed into the world’s largest planetarium, with its 37m (121ft) dome outstripping the former record holder in Nagoya, Japan.

Filling a 4,000sq m (43,000sq ft) space and capable of hosting up to 500 people at a time, Planetarium No1 features 40 8K projectors, with the dome’s screen offering a resolution of 100 million pixels.

Snøhetta  Norway  Solobservatoriet  University of Oslo  Tycho Brahe Institute 
Related stories

Shanghai's stellar planetarium revealed in swooping construction video

Worlds of leisure and commerce collide at Snøhetta's sculptural Oman fish market

Snøhetta, KoningEizenberg and TEN face public vote on El Paso kids’ museum

Snøhetta and HOK join forces to design 'new kind of ballpark' promoting sport, wellness and culture in Oakland

World's highest planetarium coming to Tibet's Museum of Natural Sciences

Telus World of Science starts work on 'jaw dropping' planetarium development

Work starting on new planetarium development for Buffalo State

Cape Town's Iziko Planetarium among Africa's elite following R30m digital upgrade

Snøhetta unveil dramatic riverwalk design for North America's second largest waterfall

Snøhetta go back to basics with wooden 'social cabin' designed for any landscape

Snøhetta celebrate 'radical reinvention' of New York's Times Square

Snøhetta wins competition to design Hilbert’s Hotel in Helsinki

Plans approved to develop largest planetarium in Romania

Snøhetta fight for sustainability with solar-powered installation at Singapore light festival

Opening date revealed for Snøhetta's spectacular San Francisco SFMOMA expansion

FEATURE: Planetariums – Ten out of Ten

International architects Snøhetta have designed a new planetarium and a visitor centre for Norway’s largest astronomical facility by studying the night sky for design inspiration. Nestled in the dense forest of Harestua, 45km north of Oslo, Solobservatoriet is the largest solar observatory North of the Alps. Its original observatory was built by the University of Oslo for the total solar eclipse of 1954, and a satellite tracking station was established
VAT,HAM,AAC,ARC,DES,CLD
 Wrapping around the golden cupola, the living roof functions as a cross between landscape and built structure that visitors can stroll on to gaze up at the starry sky / Snøhetta
More news
News stories: 1 - 30 of 7558     
 
 
 
News stories: 1 - 30 of 7558     
 
 
 
company profile
Company profile: Polin Group
Market leader in design, manufacturing and installation of waterslides and water leisure developments.
Try cladmag for free!
Sign up with CLAD to receive our regular ezine, instant news alerts, free digital subscriptions to CLADweek, CLADmag and CLADbook and to request a free sample of the next issue of CLADmag.
sign up
features
The 5,000sq m spa is spread across four levels. The design and treatments fuse Eastern and Western influences
"Wellness embraces the entire holiday experience"

The design of the newly-opened Lefay Resort and Spa Dolomitti in Italy aims to celebrate and protect its spectacular surroundings

The spa and fitness centre on the 57th floor end in an infinity-edge pool with views across Philadelphia
Dana Kalczak
"If we had focused entirely on high tech in the hotel, the artistry we normally strive for would have been compromised"

Four Seasons’ vice president of design speaks to CLAD about working with Norman Foster and creating magical moments

Catalogue Gallery
Click on a catalogue to view it online
To advertise in our catalogue gallery: call +44(0)1462 431385
features
Interview: John McElgunn and Stephen Barrett
Stephen Barrett (left) 
and John McElgunn (right) were both made partners at RSHP in 2016
"Leisure space – public space – is at the very root of democracy, and architecture is about democracy"

As RSHP completes its latest cultural project, we speak to two of its partners about why Richard Rogers isn’t leaving his succession to chance

The project to restore Houson’s Memorial Park is ongoing
Thomas Woltz
"I am very proud of stewarding the largest public space to be built in Manhattan in a century"

The Wall Street Journal’s Design Innovator of the Year on designing the gardens at Hudson Yards and looking to the Native Americans for ideas on how to create a resilient future

The architects Dean Mackenzie and Hamish Monk
"We’ve designed the space so that the atmosphere is intimate"

Les Mills’ new studio spaces at its iconic Auckland City Gym showcase a trend away from masculine ‘grunty’ gyms to something altogether different

features
"I believe gardens are where the soul rests"

With a focus on desert landscapes and collaborations with Zaha Hadid and OMA, the principal of Francis Landscapes has a deep belief in the power of nature

The reception features a Karel Teige collage artwork
Tina Norden
"We have created an approach which is playful, provocative but also functional"

Conran and Partners’ Tina Norden on playing with colour at Prague’s newly redesigned Hotel Maximilian

The Canova Suite, one of the hotel’s top suites, features an outdoor terrace with views across the city
Olga Polizzi is director of design for Rocco Forte Hotels and also owns two of her own hotels
"On Via Sistina, everything breathes history. At the same time I wanted to reflect the modern hunger for the fantastical - Tommaso Ziffer"

Following the highly anticipated launch of Rome’s Hotel de la Ville, Rocco Forte’s director of design reflects on a fascinating project

cladkit product news
ASPA International launches handheld UV-C light disinfection lamp
The compact plug-in product can be used easily in a commercial spa or domestic setting to disinfect surfaces with UV-C light
Megan Whitby
For over 30 years, ASPA International has designed and built high-quality spas for the hotel, health and wellness sectors. During ...
Matteo Thun grows Allaperto collection with new suspended outdoor armchair
Megan Whitby
Allaperto, the lounge collection spawned by the partnership between design studios, Matteo Thun, Ethimo and Antonio Rodriguez, has been expanded ...
1885 Lounge at St Mary's Stadium celebrates Southampton FC's history
Rainbow Design worked closely with KSS Architects to ensure the furniture matched the design vision
Lauren Heath-Jones
KSS Architects has partnered with Rainbow Design, a London-based furniture supplier, to create the 1885 Lounge at St Mary's Stadium, ...
cladkit product news
Painting with Light pushes boundaries to create unforgettable visual concepts
The team combines lighting, video, sound and special effects, with scenic and architectural elements, to create unforgettable visual experiences
Megan Whitby
Belgium-based light and video design studio, Painting with Light, will translate the story of your location into a visual experience, ...
Ritz Carlton co-founder joins Frontline Summit 2020 as keynote speaker
Hospitality veteran and Ritz Carlton co-founder, Horst Schulze, who brings more than 65 years’ experience to the table, has been announced as a keynote
Megan Whitby
Frontline work has never been more important and frontline workers are the largest class of workers on the planet, as ...
Tom Dixon collaborates with Prolicht to launch CODE lighting range
The product has three LED light sources: Dot, Dash and Grid
Megan Whitby
British designer, Tom Dixon, and Austrian architectural lighting specialists, Prolicht, have collaborated to unveil a new lighting range. Called CODE, ...
cladkit product news
Barr + Wray to launch space saving hammam concept
Light shines through a striking central chandelier to create a feeling of movement
Katie Barnes
Smaller footprint. Maximum theatre. Those are the two main features of a new hammam concept being developed by wet spa ...
Metalline transforms London hotel with bespoke aluminium fins
The aluminium fins will form the façade of the upcoming Minories Hotel in Aldgate, London
Lauren Heath-Jones
Metalline, an architectural metalwork specialist based in the UK, has created a range of bespoke 3D twisted metal fins for ...
GT3 Architects: Placing people at the heart of our projects
In 2019 GT3 Architects were recognised with the ‘Best Leisure Architecture UK’ award at the International Property Awards
Tim Nash
GT3 Architects is a vibrant and creative practice that delivers projects across the UK and internationally from studios in Newcastle ...
x
Sign up with CLAD for regular news updates