An out-of-this-world design upgrade is coming to Solobservatoriet, the world’s largest solar observatory north of the Alps in Harestua, Norway. Snøhetta just unveiled their designs for the site’s new planetarium and visitor center as well as seven “interstellar cabins” arranged like orbiting planets around the planetarium’s golden dome. The astronomical facility is located 28 miles of Oslo at an elevated site 1,900 feet above sea level.



celestial theater Norway Planetarium by Snøhetta

Aerial view Norway Planetarium by Snøhetta

The star of Snøhetta’s new designs is undoubtedly the Planetarium, a half-sunken structure designed as the first thing visitors see when they arrive to the facility via the forest footpaths. At the heart of the Planetarium is the 100-seat “celestial theater” housed in a golden orb engraved with constellations that appears to emerge from the earth and is visible from outside. Skylights as well as a sloping and accessible green roof planted with grass, wild heather, blueberry, and lingonberry bushes wrap around the golden dome.

astronomy-inspired Norway Planetarium by Snøhetta

Solobservatoriet Harestua

In addition to the theater, the Planetarium’s lower level includes a reception, cafe, exhibition area, and a ramp that leads up to an exhibition mezzanine and outdoor green roof. Outside, seven “interstellar cabins” are arranged around the Planetarium like unique orbiting planets. Six of the planets alternate between 27 and 33 feet in diameter and accommodate up to 10 to 32 people respectively, while the smallest planet, Zolo, measures nearly 20 feet in diameter and houses just two guests. The new visitor’s center will be placed near the original solar observatory.

forest path to planetarium Norway Planetarium by Snøhetta

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“The new Planetarium and cabins represent an ambitious expansion of the current and modest facilities, turning the entire site into a publicly accessible and international knowledge hub while also providing expanded support spaces for activities such as teambuilding, lectures and seminars,” wrote the architects.

+ Snøhetta

Images via Snøhetta