Rubjerg Knude Lighthouse
Nominated for the Mies van der Rohe Award 2017.
Ferocious pounding storms constantly move and shape the fantastic dune landscape on the Northwest coast of Denmark. In 1968 an enormous sand dune devoured Rubjerg Knude Lighthouse leaving the tower as the only remaining structure, poised on the edge of the rapidly eroding cliff.
In Spring of 2016 the lighthouse was reopened and retrofitted with an architectural installation that gives the public the last chance to enjoy the unique vistas and wild dynamic spectacle of nature, from the top of the lighthouse.
JAJA Architects and BESSARDs’ STUDIO designed a scenographic
stairway giving access to the tower and making the ascent a sequence
of architectural experiences. Staging its historic function as a beacon
for the seafarers, they inserted a gigantic wind-powered kaleidoscope
into the lighthouse that captures natural light and reflection, sending it
inwards to create an ever-changing cascade of colors and glimpses of
the sea and surrounding landscape.
The kaleidoscope also functions as the structural element on which the
stair wraps itself around. The triangular shape of the kaleidoscope in
combination with the perforated and transparent stair create a playful
interaction with the square geometry of the lighthouse, staging a unique
experience of the vertical space, which stretches between earth and sky.
The project is a variation on the properties of one unique material: steel.
Rusted, mirror polished, bent, perforated, welded and finally carefully
assembled into a monolith inside the lighthouse. It provides a visual and
tactile experience reacting to the extreme meteorological characteristics
of the site that creates an aging process that gradually merges the
kaleidoscope together with the historic lighthouse.
According to geological surveys, the lighthouse will be taken by the sea
within the next 2 to 15 years. Nobody knows exactly when the tower
will fall but when it will, the project will be entirely disassembled and –
thanks to its constructive system – be remounted or recycled.
The revitalization of Rubjerg Knude Lighthouse is part of a nationwide
initiative of architectural interventions that seek to invite the
public to experience the most unique and remarkable areas of the
Danish landscape. Rubjerg Knude transformation was commissioned
by Realdania Foundation, The Danish Nature Agency and Hjørring