Few symbols are so positively connotated as light. You “see things brighter”, it is “a new dawn” – semantically light is something optimistic and joyful that we desire. Light, or the absence of it, affects us in many ways. In some parts of the world the access to electrical light, and/or daylight, are limited for different reasons. This affects both mood and health, but also the possibilities to study or work after sunset. Here are some examples of how people living in the dark has taken matters into their own hands and turned the light on.
Mirror, mirror on the mountain…
One way of helping the sunbeams find their way, is by redirecting and reflecting them. This is something the small villages of Rjukan (Norway) and Viganella (Italy), has tried. Both cities are located in-between steep mountains, and the residents normally do not see the daylight for many months during the winter season. The city of Rjukan is a beautiful village along the Hardanger fjord, located in an east/west valley, with the mighty Gaustatoppen (1883 m) on one side and steep mountain sides south of the city. Due to its location, the people of Rjukan live in shadow for almost six months a year, which of course affects the circadian rhythm and the possibilities to have an outdoor life.
In 2013 three giant mirrors was installed on one of the mountain tops, mounted in the rock wall 742 metres above the sea, about 450 m just above Rjukan Torg. The mirrors are in total 51 m² large. They catch the sunlight and reflect it down to Rjukan Torg, where the sunlight is distributed in an 600 m² area on the square. The solar energy in the square has an effect of 80-100% in relation to the light captured by the mirrors. The mirrors follows the sun's brief dash across the winter sky, and reminds the residents that even though it might not show, it is daytime.