marco casagrande: nomad city aurora observatory marco casagrande: nomad city aurora observatory
jun 03, 2012

marco casagrande: nomad city aurora observatory

‘nomad city – aurora observatory’,  by marco casagrande, røssvatnet lake, norway image © marco casagrande




nomad city – aurora observatory‘ was a two week workshop organized by finnish architect marco casagrande held on top of the frozen røssvatnet lake in the scandinavian mountains near mo i rana in norway. the collaboration brought together a cross-disciplinary mix of environmental art, architecture, sociology students and professors from the environmental art masters class of the aalto university in finland, from lund university department of sustainable urban design in sweden, from madrid european university department of architecture, from bauhaus university department of fine arts in germany and from université libre de bruxelles faculté d’architecture la cambre–horta in belgium.


the 19 nationalities came together to create a mobile city for nomads that respect and are humbled by nature. the students were given a task to make a personal fishing shelter and collectively to build two communal focal points: a movable ‘nomad sauna’ on skies and an ‘aurora observatory’.

‘nomad sauna’ on skies image © marco casagrande




with the support from construction experts from mosjøen in norway and the varntresk community, the students were able to construct the shelters at a 1:1 scale. the individuals experienced an experimental process midst the harsh weather conditions of the region. over 200 people from the local media, government officials and general public attended the opening of the city which consisted of a ribbon cutting, and native cuisine. currently, the ‘nomad sauna’ is on skies during the winter and floats on the swimming beach during the summer. ice fishers use the ‘aurora observatory’ which contains a fireplace to prepare and cook their fresh catch of the day.

image © marco casagrande

interior of sauna image © marco casagrande

ice-hole corner image © marco casagrande

professors and students of the nomad city workshop image © marco casagrande

røssvatnet lake, norway image © marco casagrande

‘aurora observatory’ image © marco casagrande

shaman drum playing image © marco casagrande

fresh fish caught using the shelter image © marco casagrande

students gathering material for their individual shelters image © ketil born

students transporting their shelter to the nomad city image © guoda bardauskaite

harri piispanen building his ‘ice sagcophagus / anti-sauna’ image © marco casagrande

‘lean-to’ by lill maria hansen image © marco casagrande

lund university department of sustainable urban design students with their ‘nomad shelter’ image © marco casagrande

view from within the sauna image © greg eeman

image © lill maria hansen


site plan drawing image © marco casagrande



elevation of nomad sauna image © marco casagrande



building the nomad sauna
video © kate balcerowska



project info:


site: røssvatnet lake, varntresk community, norway


participating universities: aalto university environmental art master program, finland lund university department of sustainable urban design, sweden madrid european university department of architecture, spain bauhaus university department of fine art, germany université libre de bruxelles. faculté d’architecture la cambre -horta, belgium mosjøen college / construction


workshop leaders: marco casagrande / aalto university environmental art hans-petter bjørnådal / pimp post industrial meditation platform jan tyrpekl, assistant / liberec university faculty of architecture


supported by: sæterstad gård varntresk community hattfjelldal munincipality

    have something to add? share your thoughts in our comments section below.

    comments policy
    LOG IN
    designboom's comment policy guidelines
    generally speaking, if we publish something, it's because we're genuinely interested in the subject. we hope you'll share this interest and if you know even more about it, please share! our goal in the discussion threads is to have good conversation and we prefer constructive opinions. we and our readers have fun with entertaining ones. designboom welcomes alerts about typos, incorrect names, and the like.
    the correction is at the discretion of the post editor and may not happen immediately.

    what if you disagree with what we or another commenter has to say?
    let's hear it! but please understand that offensive, inappropriate, or just plain annoying comments may be deleted or shortened.

    - please do not make racist, sexist, anti-semitic, homophobic or otherwise offensive comments.
    - please don't personally insult the writers or your fellow commenters.
    - please avoid using offensive words, replacing a few letters with asterisks is not a valid workaround.
    - please don't include your website or e-mail address in your comments for the purpose of self-promotion.
    - please respect jury verdicts and do not discuss offensively on the competition results
    (there is only one fist prize, and designboom usually asks renown professionals to help us to promote talent.
    in addition to the awarded designs, we do feel that almost all deserve our attention, that is why we publish
    the best 100-200 entries too.)

    a link is allowed in comments as long as they add value in the form of information, images, humor, etc. (links to the front page of your personal blog or website are not okay). unwelcome links (to commercial products or services of others, offensive material etc. ) will be redacted. and, ... yes, spam gets banned. no, we do not post fake comments.


    a diverse digital database that acts as a valuable guide in gaining insight and information about a product directly from the manufacturer, and serves as a rich reference point in developing a project or scheme.

    architecture news