At one point in time, lighthouses were essential to helping ships navigate to shore and avoid danger, but these days, many of them sit empty. Lighthouse keepers are no longer needed, as lighthouses are now mostly automated, and even the lighthouses themselves are becoming increasingly unnecessary as other navigational tools improve.
And yet many of the structures themselves remain standing, monuments to another time. Lighthouses capture people’s imaginations, and even when they’re not in use, they’re still common tourist destinations.
That is now particularly true of a lighthouse in Rubjerg, Denmark, a 75-foot-tall structure that has gone through many lives. Built in 1899–1900, the Rubjerg Knude Lighthouse guided ships until the 1968, when it was decommissioned and became a museum. In 2002, it was abandoned due to erosion, and left to slowly crumble away.
But now, the lighthouse is again a beacon of light. A group of Danish designers and architects has used giant shards of mirrored glass to turn the lighthouse into an amazing public art project. A spinning glass prism has been installed at the lantern room, where it creates infinite reflections and mesmerizing patterns. Stairs have also been installed in the lighthouse so that visitors can climb to the top and see the prism—and its echo chamber of light—in person.
The art project is temporary, however. The continual erosion of the shoreline has authorities predicting that the lighthouse will fall into the sea by 2020.