LINK Arkitektur

LINK Arkitektur

Oslo, NO

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The Northern light cathedral


The Cathedral of the Northern Lights (Nordlyskatedralen) was consecrated by Bishop Per Oskar Kjølaas on February 10, 2013. The building is inspired by the Northern Lights, and is Europe’s northernmost cathedral. Its host city, Alta, can now boast an exceptional architectural landmark evoking the poetry and beauty of the Northern Lights.

The cathedral is located in central Alta, at the end of a pedestrian mall, and will in time be surrounded by parkland. The cathedral will function as a new meeting place, where events big and small will take place throughout the year.

The cathedral’s coiling body and spire stretches 47m towards the heavens, and is inspired by the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis), which has given the cathedral its name. H.R.H. Crown Princess Mette Marit and a myriad other prominent guests attended the consecration of the titanium-clad structure, Norway’s newest and most spectacular church. Delivery of the project will occur during May, 2013.

Link Arkitektur (previously Signatur Arkitekter) participated in a pre-qualification round and subsequently won the design competition together with Schmidt Hammer Lassen architects, who were invited to participate as part of the design team by LINK Arkitektur.

The client expressed a clear desire to create an architectural landmark inspired by the Northern Lights right from the project’s inception. The building assumed the name ‘Cathedral of the Northern Lights’ as early as 2001. LINK responded to the design brief with a robust concept and a clear symbolic idea – the coiling structure’s dynamic, to-directional movement represents the relationship between God and Mankind, and Mankind and God. A space for quiet prayer and worship is located in the eye of the coil.

The project has been constantly refined throughout the design phase, producing a spectacular finished product; a titanium-clad sculpture evoking the spirit of the Northern Lights and capturing the unique light found in Alta throughout the year. Tension between the enormous sky, filled with the swirling Northern Lights, and the coiling structure’s upturned form culminates in the cathedral’s 47m high spire. The shifting forms of the Northern Lights are reflected in the titanium-clad curves of the cathedral’s façade. The structure expresses itself as an isolated sculpture in harmony with the majesty of the surrounding landscape. Design and construction of the curves and sloping concrete walls was extremely demanding, and countless variations of form have lead to extreme technical challenges.

Project Architect Kolbjørn Jensen of Link Arkitektur is extremely pleased with the final result, and believes the competition entry’s concept has proven able to withstand 12 years of design process and development. Kolbjørn Jensen is also designed a series of other churches, but insists this is the most spectacular project he has been involved with.

The project was won and completed during the period 2001 -2013.

Peter Brandes was chosen as the project artist in an integrated process with the principal architect. Artists, acoustic consultants, lighting designers, artistic consultants, a liturgical consultant and Haldde architects were all engaged as sub-contractors by LINK Arkitektur.

Cooperation with the artists and other consultants was constructive throughout the entire project. The acoustics have proven to be close to perfect, and the integrated ornamentation in the nave has produced similarly strong results. Technical consultants were engaged separately, with LINK Arkitektur as the principal architect.

Location: Axial, at the end of Alta’s pedestrian mall.

The building has a floor space of1920 m2, and is 47 metres high. The cast in-situ concrete structure is clad in small-format titanium patch thatching.

The building will function as a modern working church and a centre for music.
In addition to the nave, which seats 360 people, there is also a vestry, cafe, lecture hall and church offices, in addition to a youth centre. There are also plans for a Northern Lights information centre to be incorporated into the lower ground floor.

Building sum: NOK 120 million NOK

Floor plan:

Marketing Manager Rolf Maurseth, cell: +47 915 68 617, email:

Cathedral of the Northern Lights’ official website:

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Status: Built
Location: Alta, NO
Firm Role: Architect
Additional Credits: Photographer: Hundven-Clements Photography

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