schmidt hammer lassen architects: cathedral of the northern light schmidt hammer lassen architects: cathedral of the northern light
feb 11, 2013

schmidt hammer lassen architects: cathedral of the northern light

‘cathedral of the northern light’ by schmidt hammer lassen architects, alta, norwayimage © adam mørkall images courtesy of schmidt hammer lassen architects



located approximately 500 kilometers north of the arctic circle, the ‘cathedral of the northern light’ by danish firm schmidt hammer lassen architectsin collaboration with local firm link arkitekter has been inaugurated and opened to the public. the town of alta is known as the ideal location for the viewing of thenorthern lights phenomenon, which meant the church was not only to function as a sacred place of worship but should also possess a commensurate architectonicquality that marks the town as a special place. taking cues from the elegant sinuous curves of the aurora borealis, the church is composed of a poetically windingconcrete sculpture epitomized into the 47-meter tall belfry tower. the titanium cladding is used to reflect and further accentuate the visual effects of the dancing glowin the dark arctic sky. the interior is characterized by exposed concrete walls and warmer touches of wood that reflect nordic architecture. vertical slit windowsplaced at irregular intervals offer views of the exterior like slices that span from ground to sky, and also let in a certain quality of light in the interior. the program contains the main church room with room for up to 350 people, classrooms, exhibition areas, a parochial area, and administration offices.



image © adam mørk



approach to the churchimage © adam mørk



(left) entry walkway(right) detail of the 47-meter tall belfry towerimage © adam mørk



glow through the vertical windows, with ice sculptures lining the entry walkwayimage © adam mørk



amidst a backdrop of northern lightsimage © adam mørk



church roomimage © adam mørk



image © adam mørk




site plan



floor plan / level 0



floor plan / level 1















 project info:



architect team: schmidt hammer lassen architects, link arkitektur a/sclient: the municipality of altaarea: 1,917 m²construction sum: €16.2 millioncompetition: 2001, 1st prize in restricted architecture competitionstatus: construction period 2009 – 2013engineer: rambøll as, altamain contractor: ulf kivijervi asart work: peter brandes

  • Nice idea and execution. Too bad it is not put to a better use.


    JimCan says:
  • mr. Mendelsohn, meet mr. Goff

    dbkii says:
  • Metropolis anyone?

    ukigumo says:

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

comments policy
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