Just about 30 miles north of Oslo, Norway lies an undisturbed countryside by the name of Harestua. Located in this forest, Norwegian architecture firm Snøhetta has recently released plans and images of a beautiful planetarium and visiting center, which will join the Harestua Solar Observatory – Norway’s largest astronomical facility – in 2020. The ambitious facilities aim to provide a place where travelers and students can observe the world’s natural wonders.
“This magical landscape has inspired so many folktales in Norway that we grew up with,” Vegard Lundby Rekaa, a lead astronomer of Tycho Brahe Institute (who manages the observatory), tells CNN Travel. “You have the valleys, the hills, the forests, the stars – it’s all part of the experience.”
Inspired by the structure of solar systems, the new facility is organized around a giant dome at its center. This 16,100-square-foot celestial theatre is “orbited” by a series of other semi-spherical buildings, connected by walkways that snake through the forest. The planetarium’s golden cupola – inspired by the first planetarium conceived by Archimedes around 250 B.C.–is nestled into a green roof covered with grass, wild heather, blueberry, and lingonberry bushes.
Inside, up to 100 people can enjoy presentations and star shows displayed on its interior dome by laser projectors, along with a reception, café, and exhibition areas.
The center has been credited with several techniques and discoveries over the years, including the spectrograph – used for observing and analyzing the sun – and the discovery of solar storms.
As part of the immersive experience, visitors can experiment with the institute’s instruments, including an enormous telescope that stretches 65 feet in diameter.