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Mateusz Wojtanek - "AURORA - Observing the sky in northern Norway".

19 of July '21
Technical data
Type: master's thesis
Year of defense: 2020
Author: Matthew Wojtanek

Dr. Rafał Zawisza, prof. PK

Associate Promoter:

Dr. Lucas Olma

Work submitted for the competition
"Best Diploma Architecture".

AURORA is a property that was created for visitors to the Norwegian archipelago of Lofoten, specifically the small fishing village of Reine located on the island of Moskenesøya, a mountainous area surrounded by the sea.



© Matthew Wojtanek

The more important part of the building was located 67 meters above sea level. To the top of the building there is an outdoor walking trail and a tunnel hollowed out to accommodate two tracked railroads reaching directly to the top of the complex. In addition to the cable car stations, the tunnel also contains a spacious entrance area from which we can access further rooms within the facility, including a large multi-purpose hall, where we may just happen to find an interesting theatrical performance or an intimate vernissage. The room, thanks to an auditorium that slides out from the floor, can be transformed into a cinema, theater or banquet hall. With large conference spaces, the facility is expected to attract not only tourists, but also corporate or training groups.

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projection of level +2, education and observation center

© Mateusz Wojtanek

While waiting for the arrival of the railroad or resting after mountain trekking, we can relax in the cafe below, enjoy a warm coffee and taste local baked goods. By train we can transport ourselves to the upper floors and check out what the AURORA center has to offer. The main idea during the design was to create a place where tourists can observe and admire the sky and landscape of the picturesque Lofoten Islands, and above all see the amazing phenomenon that is the aurora borealis(the building owes its name to the Latin term for the aurora borealis- Aurora Borealis).

elewacja easternelewacja easternelewacja eastern

eastern elevation

© Mateusz Wojtanek

Reaching the top, a large main hall connecting two zones with separate staircases appears to our eyes. The first zone, which we can access by stairs or elevator, is a cafe area with attractive dormitory rooms offering the opportunity to eat a hot meal and relax in hotel rooms overlooking the most picturesque part of the site. The second area is the education center, the main attraction of the complex. The facility features an educational path dedicated to the theme of sky observation and aurora borealis, which leads directly to the observation tower. Walking along the interactive path surrounded by numerous screens exposing the most interesting spectacles that nature creates - scenes from space, star systems - one encounters educational and observation boxes from time to time. Each has its own theme and is topped by a soaring concrete pyramid facing directly into the illuminated sky, which illuminates the room during the day and allows observation of the stars at night.

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AURORA complex

© Mateusz Wojtanek

The projected building looks like a massive monolith, rising straight out of the high Norwegian rocks. It consists entirely of a reinforced concrete structure. It resembles a concrete arrangement of geometric figures, which is topped by a tall, towering 20-meter tower above the establishment. It is she who is the destination we want to reach when visiting the AURORA center.

We can get to the tower by walking the entire interactive path, climbing a long, broken staircase or riding to the top in a glass track train. The tower's appearance is similar to that of a funnel, the barrel of a gun, or a swan. The top of the tower was placed more than eighty meters above sea level. The building of the tower is so huge that it gives the impression of hanging above other buildings and human heads.

wieża obserwacyjna schody na wieżę obserwacyjną

Left: the observation tower; right: the stairs to the observation tower

© Mateusz Wojtanek

Leaving the building, we can start hiking along local hiking trails. During the hike, we can admire the picturesque mountain pond over which the restaurant is overhung. The structure, as we pass directly below it, evokes a variety of impressions - sometimes fear and sometimes excitement. Walking higher on the green grass, we come to the observation terraces located on the roofs of the facility, from which we can also admire the beautiful landscape of Lofoten, sky-high star shows and the multicolored, unique aurora borealis. The entire upper complex, which is two separate buildings, is connected to the outside by a large atrium, which is also used for sky observation.

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the center's atrium

© Mateusz Wojtanek

Continuing along the mountain paths, along the way, not far from the facility, we can encounter individual concrete cube-shaped cottages, in which, in addition to the rooms in the building, we can spend the night almost outdoors thanks to an almost invisible, all-glass wall. The complex forms a coherent whole and provides convenient conditions for observing and contemplating the sky, aurora borealis and stellar spectacles.


Illustrations: © Author

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