The town of Skien is a junction of city and country, water and landscape, industry and trade. It is located at the confluence of the Telemark canal and the Skien River, which flows into the fjord, and has a significant history as a trading center during the 14th century.
Trying to redefine itself after an industrial past, the Skien municipality created a city plan in 1996, naming the critical goal of reconnecting the city to the waterfront again and drawing people back to the city center. Snøhetta was invited to participate in a lighting installation competition highlighting the transition between the city and its waterfront. After winning the assignment in 1998, the Telemark canal was chosen as Telemark's 1000-year anniversary site.
Our light design project is an interpretation of Skien town's history as a trading center, with the Telemark canal being the primary infrastructure for transporting goods. Fourteen small light design projects highlight the town's history, central axis, the river, and changes in water level evident in the canal lock.
The light elements are categorized into 'Urban development and industrialism,' 'Landmarks,' 'the axis from Skien Church to Tollboden', and 'Infrastructure.' We subtly lit the existing elements and made them visually and mentally more visible for visitors to the installation.
Many elements not understood as significant during daylight but at night become important storytelling pieces about Skien town's history. The city's typical lighting scheme was also dimmed to highlight the specific lit objects better. The emphasis on urban elements in connection to the water and the transition between town and canal reinforces their specific identity but also creates a safe and beautiful night atmosphere for Skien.