The 100 Year Old Idea Brought to Life


A town in Norway is so deep in the valley that 6 months of the year it doesn't get any sunlight. Residence spoke of having to strain their necks just to see what the weather was like. A deep valley isn't the perfect spot to build a town but back in the day it was the world's first manufacturing site for artificial fertiliser. This obviously requires a lot of power and transferring electricity was difficult. The village of Rjukan is near one of the biggest waterfalls in Norway so a series of power plants were built in situ.

In 1928 due to the growing residents complaining about the lack of sunshine, an idea was conceived to build mirrors to reflect the sun into the town. There was a second idea to build a cable car to allow people to go to the sun in winter. Europe's first cable car was built and the town's morale was given another boost.

An artist/lifeguard Martin Andersen moved to the town in 2002 and re-imagined the mirror idea. He thought "lets bring the sun to the people". In 2011 he received an arts grant to explore the idea. He sourced heliostats, huge reflective mirrors controlled by computers to follow the sun and reflect the light into the town square. At night they rest in a way to avoid the snow fall. Since Oct 2013 the town has received year round sunlight. The mirror reflection is strong enough to give you sunburn and has caused a town square to be reenergised with life.

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