Rubjerg Knude Lighthouse

Ferocious storms constantly move and shape the fantastic dune landscape on the northwest coast of Denmark. In 1968, an enormous sand dune devoured the Rubjerg Knude Lighthouse leaving the tower as the only remaining structure, poised on the edge of the rapidly eroding cliff.

In Spring of 2016 the lighthouse was reopened and retrofitted with an architectural installation. This gave the public one last chance to enjoy the dynamic spectacle of nature from the top of the lighthouse.

Access of the tower is provided by a wrapping stairway that makes the ascent a sequence of geometric experiences. A large, wind-powered kaleidoscope was inserted into the top of the lighthouse echoing its historic function as a beacon for seafarers. It captures the natural light and reflects it inwards to create a changing cascade of colors and giving occasional glimpses of the ocean.

The kaleidoscope also functions as the structural element that supports the stair. The triangular shape of the kaleidoscope and the perforated stair create a playful interaction with the square geometry of the lighthouse, staging a unique experience of the vertical space stretching between earth and sky.

The project experiments with the properties of one unique material: steel. Different combinations of rusted, mirror polished, bent, perforated and welded steel are carefully assembled into one installation inside the lighthouse. These combinations provide a visual and tactile experience reacting to the extreme meteorological characteristics of the site that will eventually inform the aging process. As time progresses, the material characteristics of the kaleidoscope installation will gradually merge with the historic lighthouse.

According to geological surveys, the lighthouse will be taken by the sea within the next 2 to 15 years. It is unsure when exactly the tower will fall but when it does, the project will be entirely disassembled and – thanks to its construction system – be remounted or recycled.

The revitalization of the Rubjerg Knude Lighthouse is part of a nation-wide initiative of architectural interventions that invite the public to experience the most unique and remarkable areas of the Danish landscape. The Rubjerg Knude transformation was commissioned by Realdania Foundation, The Danish Nature Agency and Hjørring Municipality.

Program: Transformation of a lighthouse
Størrelse: +40 m2
Beliggenhed: Rubjerg Knude Fyr, Hjørring, Denmark
Bygherre: Naturstyrelsen and Realdania
År: 2013 - 2016
Type: Commission
Samarbejde: Bessards' Studio
Ydelse: Concept and design development, architectural and landscape advisor
Status: Completed
Udmærkelse: Hjørring Arkitektur Pris - Winner
Mies Van Der Rohe Award 2017 - Nominated
Team JAJA: Jan Tanaka, Jakob Christensen, Kathrin Gimmel, Thilde Bjørkskov, Sam De Boever, Peter Jørgensen, John Christensen

HISTORY AND FUNCTION

Built in 1899, the lighthouse is located on Rubjerg Knude, a clay cliff that is rapidly eroding due to strong coastal winds that unleash enormous amount of sand. Futile attempts have been made to stop the moving sand dunes. In 1968 the lighthouse was taken out of commission but re-opened in during 1980-1990s as a visitor center. In the early 2000s the nearby lighthouse keeper’s house was destroyed by pressure from the sand, and although the tower survived it was closed to the public.

HISTORY AND FUNCTION

Built in 1899, the lighthouse is located on Rubjerg Knude, a clay cliff that is rapidly eroding due to strong coastal winds that unleash enormous amount of sand. Futile attempts have been made to stop the moving sand dunes. In 1968 the lighthouse was taken out of commission but re-opened in during 1980-1990s as a visitor center. In the early 2000s the nearby lighthouse keeper’s house was destroyed by pressure from the sand, and although the tower survived it was closed to the public.

SOLITARY TOWER AND SECRET WITHIN

In contrast to the constant shift of the sand dunes, the tower stands tall and isolate. Hints of the new structure only appears upon arrival when hints of the kaleidoscope within become visible.

SOLITARY TOWER AND SECRET WITHIN

In contrast to the constant shift of the sand dunes, the tower stands tall and isolate. Hints of the new structure only appears upon arrival when hints of the kaleidoscope within become visible.

THE STAIR

A new stair is inserted between the existing lighthouse walls and the kaleidoscope structure, allowing access to the top balcony. The stair is made of perforated sheet metal, which creates a transparent appearance that allows daylight to filter in.

THE STAIR

A new stair is inserted between the existing lighthouse walls and the kaleidoscope structure, allowing access to the top balcony. The stair is made of perforated sheet metal, which creates a transparent appearance that allows daylight to filter in.

THE LIGHT MACHINE

A lighthouse is essentially a light machine. To maintain the history of the site, building and function, we reinterpreted the prism and designed an installation that, instead of sending light towards the sea, casts light inside the tower.

THE LIGHT MACHINE

A lighthouse is essentially a light machine. To maintain the history of the site, building and function, we reinterpreted the prism and designed an installation that, instead of sending light towards the sea, casts light inside the tower.

THE KALEIDOSCOPE

Powered by the wind, the reflective prism above rotates to create a cascading light experience within the tower. As a homage to the history and site, the 24-meter-tall kaleidoscope creates an experience rooted in the natural forces and the original function of the lighthouse.

THE KALEIDOSCOPE

Powered by the wind, the reflective prism above rotates to create a cascading light experience within the tower. As a homage to the history and site, the 24-meter-tall kaleidoscope creates an experience rooted in the natural forces and the original function of the lighthouse.