This Sun-Deprived Town Built A Giant Mirror To Get Sunlight


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For this small town in Norway, Giant mirrors and some technology transformed life as it knew it.


Rjukan lies at the base of a valley in Southern Norway
Credit: Olav Gjerstad/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

In 2013, Sun mirrors were installed atop one mountain, which reflect into the dark market square of the town.

Rjukan is a small dark town that sits between two mountains in Southern Norway. Located deep in Vestfjord valley in Telemark, surrounded by steep mountains, the town does not get any sun from September to March.

In 2002, when Martin Anderson, an artist, moved to Rjukan, he had not expected the lack of sun to take its toll so badly on him. However, gradually as Summer gave way to Autumn, he found that he had to push further down into the valley each day just to get some sunlight. The lack of sunlight left him lethargic and moody.

Rjukan lies at the base of a valley in Southern Norway
Credit: Olav Gjerstad/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

As he pondered over a way to reflect some of the sunlight back into the small town, Martin turned to the idea of installing a mirror to reflect sunlight in 2005. After receiving a small grant from the local council to develop the idea, he started to develop a plan where a mirror was mounted to turn according to the position of the Sun while continually reflecting its light down towards the Rjukan town square. In 2013, the mirror was officially opened.

 

 

But the idea was not new and Martin certainly did not come up with it himself. Sam Eyde, the founder of the town gave the idea of a “Solspeil”, or sun mirror, above Rjukan about a hundred years before the launch of the sun mirror in 2013. Sam Eyde built a hydroelectric plant in the town and realized that his workers may not want to stay in the town for long due to lack of sunlight. Therefore, he wanted a way to give his workers sunlight in the winter. The idea of a sun mirror was one of the ideas Sam Eyde came up with but could not complete due to lack of the requisite technology.

A cable car was eventually constructed for Sam Eyde’s workers to go to the mountaintop and get some sunlight.

 

Martin Anderson Standing with the Statue of Samuel Eyde
Photo: ABC News James Glennday
Along with sunlight, the mirrors have also managed to attract throngs of tourists to this hitherto unknown town.
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