I saw a story on Reddit today that instantly reminded me of one of the more unique features of New York City. The town of Rjukan, which is normally covered in shadow for five months a year, is installing a bunch of massive mirrors on an adjacent mountain to illuminate its town square during its darkest times. As the Popular Mechanics story points out, it’s an attempt at a mood enhancer, and I think it will work. Seasonal Affective Disorder is a real thing, and not just because of its funny acronym, S.A.D. You need light in your life to be happy. It massages the brain in a pleasing way, even if overdoing the sun-worship can be hell on your skin. The article notes that it’s not a new idea, as the Italian village of Viganella has successfully used brushed steel mirrors to do the same thing since 2006. Want to know another place that harvests reflected sunlight to make people feel good? The Dream Downtown Hotel in New York.
Prior to its debut in June of 2011, owner (and actor) Vikram Chatwal commissioned a top-to-bottom redesign of the iconic ’60s Albert C. Ledner building, featuring 316 guest rooms and suites and a variety of restaurants and bars including PH-D Rooftop Lounge and The Beach at Dream Downtown. The Beach is essentially a pool bar, but the pool, which is sandwiched between two tall buildings, wouldn’t normally get much sunlight were it not for a unique design detail courtesy of Frank Fusaro of Handel Architects: aluminum-clad walls on both sides funnel what little sunlight there is to create a bright, warm, and pleasing affect for the beach-bunnies and daiquiri sippers below.
I saw it in action recently at an early-evening event for Chandon. What little light remained as the sun began to set over the Hudson reflected off one wall and then the other, ping-pong style, until the whole pool deck was bathed in a cosseting glow, making the models hired for the occasion sexier and beachier than ever, even though we were tucked between 16th and 17th Streets in Chelsea.
And so we salute you, Rjukan, Norway, for playing god and putting sunlight where you want it, rather than accepting its natural course.