Denmark’s historic Rubjerg Knude Lighthouse was reopened this spring after having been abandoned for some time. Prior to its reopening, the lighthouse underwent a transformation of kaleidoscopic proportions, thanks to an artistic revitalization from Bessards’ Studio and JAJA Architects. The designers inserted a gigantic wind-powered kaleidoscope into the massive lighthouse, situated on the northwestern coast of Denmark, and now the 116-year-old tower captures light rather than sending it out to sea. Inside the lighthouse, a cascading spectacle of color and light dance as images of the surrounding seascape are reflected again and again.
Having first been lit in 1900, the lighthouse was abandoned for years prior to this revitalization project. In 1968, a giant sand dune destroyed much of the Rubjerg Knude Lighthouse, leaving the tower as the only remaining structure. The surrounding cliffs are rapidly eroding into the sea, posing an ever-growing danger to the lighthouse itself—a fact the designers embraced with their outward-in kaleidoscope installation.
An enormous inverted pyramid, clad in kaleidoscope mirrors, was mounted in the lighthouse’s tower where the beacon usually resides. Instead of sending beams of light to illuminate the waves, the lighthouse captures daylight and turns it inward. Bouncing off the kaleidoscope’s mirrors, the light and images of the seascape are reflected and multiplied in a marvelous game of hide and seek. In effect, the installation is a metaphor for turning the lighthouse inside out, which is precisely what may happen when the cliff beneath finally succumbs to the sea.
This cool project is actually just one part of a nationwide effort to reclaim and revitalize landmarks across the Danish landscape. The series of architectural renovations, with artistic flair, is meant to invigorate the public’s awareness and education of many of the unique and remarkable areas of the country. As with the Rubjerg Knude Lighthouse, many of the projects highlight locations of historical significance that may not endure much longer, as the changing landscape continues to evolve.
Images via Hampus Per Berndtson