The Historic Town
Rjukan is a unique pearl in northern Europe. The location is unparalleled, with 3,000 hardy inhabitants living in the shadowy depths of the narrow valley of Vestjorddalen, where the shines only half of the year.
The town snakes it way through 5 kilometers (2 miles) of the deep valley, with a wide range of different structures and buildings – nearly all of them built during the 7-year period from 1908 – 15. Many of these buildings have been preserved as part of the UNESCO Industrial Heritage status awarded Rjukan in 2015.
For centuries, from late in October to March, the inhabitants had lived in winter darkness. Then in 2013, three giant reflecting mirrors were installed atop the mountainside overlooking Rjukan. Now visitors and residents alike are able to enjoy the winter sun in the valley for the first time.
Despite the depths of the mountain valley, it is only a short trip up the mountain to the endless mountain plains of the Hardangervidda. A picturesque film-friendly cable car built in 1928 takes you from darkness to light at the top of the world.
Not only is the Krossobane the oldest and one of the most unique dual cable car system in Europe, it also provides an ever changing perspective of the Gaustatoppen mountain to the south – where on a clear day you can see one-sixth of Norway.
Rjukan is Norway’s first architect designed town, built in the vision of Sam Eyde as he established Norsk Hydro in the early 1900s. Here the unique architecture is something to be experienced – and filmed. Architecture and function in Rjukan have always been the expression of quality, quality and creativity, and no expense has been spared.
Period pieces in town are easily staged and filmed in several different time epochs, the first from 1907 – 1920, when the town went from a tiny agriculture settlement to the most modern industrial center in the world in just a few short years.
Corporate class hierarchy drove the architecture and placement of the buildings in the town. The factory's directors and engineers were allocated houses higher up the mountainside, where the sun appeared first in the spring and disappeared last in the autumn.
The houses of the clerical workers were located lower down the mountainside, while those of the ordinary laborers were right at the bottom in the valley, by the factories and the raging While those class distinctions have ceased to exist, the preserved houses and other buildings clearly show today the way of life in different periods of time in this charming and unique town.
Here are just a few examples of what you will find in Rjukan:
Sing-Sing is a distinct part of Rjukan with ‘personalities’. Built in 1915,. The name ‘Sing Sing- is derived from the US prison of the same name – because the special architecture and formation of the buildings are a closed defensive posture that also acts as a firewall. In addition, the buildings have three floors (stories) as opposed to the norm of two stories in Rjukan.
This historic stone church has had a dramatic existence. Snow thaw and heavy rainstorms created flood and rockslide conditions that swept part of the church away in 1927. Then, after renovation, the ceiling collapsed in 1953. In 1965, during the filming of the classic ‘Heroes of Telemark’, the church caught and major damage was done. By 1968, repairs were made and the church is now in its original condition.
THE RJUKAN CHURCH
This was the building built by Norsk Hydro founder Sam Eyde - to be expressly used for hospitality, impressing and entertaining kings and queens and captains of industry through the years.
Althought this building was a great secret to the local population for years, and ‘regular’ people were not allowed access, the Admini is now an exclusive hotel which is often used for filming.
The original décor and interior is well-preserved, taking visitors back 100 years to the height of glory of industrial Rjukan.
This unique structure built in the early years of the modern Rjukan industrial adventure still has its original reddish/orange color. As you drive into town from the east, the color and architecture stands out vividly as something special. The church is still in use, but now with just a congregation of only 20 people. This is a building that must be seen inside and out to be truly appreciated.
THE RJUKAN BAPTIST CHURCH
For nearly a century, Tveitopark has been a photogenic gathering place for the townspeople of Rjukan. The park was established in 1928, with the lake located there receiveing continuous fresh water from the mountainside. Set against the backdrop of the mountains and the slanting sunshine has fine film potential for the right story.
This immense power station was completed in 1915, and was the largest and most powerful in the world for years. Built stone by stone by the nomadic workers known as the ´Rallars´, this momentus structure quickly became known as the Såheim Opera as a result of the ‘singing’ of the turbines. This structure is truly an ode to the beginning of the 2nd Industrial Revolution that began here in Rjukan - and is a wonderful object to be used in film.
SÅHEIM POWER STATION
Located on the west side of town, this was the first worker housing complex built in Rjukan during the period 1907 – 13.
All told, Norsk Hydro built 1,230 apartments and houses with 80 % of the entire town under the direct control of the company. Color variations that made these dwellings unique and a special part of the town’s architectural landscape.
The quintessential factory town - the most modern in Norway. For example,
houses built in 1925 featured the first indoor toilets in Norway.
FLEKKEBYEN (FLEKK TOWN)
At the time, this complex was the most modern in the world, and time has done little to diminish the imagery of these buildings. Built by Sam Eyde to be both functional and esthetically impressive, although many of the buildings are in use now for other purposes, the vast majority are still intact and resonate with stories still untold.
NORSK HYDRO FACTORIES
ARCHITECTURAL NOTE TO FILM MAKERS
Tinn Municipality has developed a system that designates the different types of housing and other structures in the town that specifies windows, door types, roof types, and outer appearance.
Film Rjukan will assist your film team in finding exactly the right structures in just the right settings for your creative film and budget requirements.