The Lava Tunnel, Raufarhólshellir, Iceland
KSLD | ELFA Lighting Design
Ágúst Gunnlaugsson, Lead Lighting Designer; Arnar Leifsson, Senior Lighting Designer ( KSLD | EFLA Lighting Design)
Winner in Landscape Lighting
Þrengslavegur Road, Suðurland, Iceland, United Kingdom
Raufarhólshellir is a 1.3km tunnel formed by lava flow 5,600 years ago. The environment within is challenging for lighting and electrical equipment, with temperatures as extreme as outside. Skylights allow rain and snow to fall through; fantastical in the Winter, with ice stalactites and stalagmites carefully illuminated.
The aim was to create an unforgettable visitor experience, develop a strong interaction between contrasts, light and shadow, to intensify the magnificent natural colour palette, and emphasise the geological highlights of the tunnel. The focus was on sensitively guiding visitors without diverting attention from the geological attractions. This was managed with almost no visible lighting equipment or cables. Low light bollards of steel were constructed to rust equally with bridges and platforms.
Increasing the drama, guests are placed in total darkness and silence for one minute; the light returning to illuminate Raufarhólshellir’s geological highlights one by one.