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This massive lantern is actually a power plant in Finland


From the outside, the newly upgraded Lnsisalmi power substation, in southern Finland, looks like an art installation; behind its glass walls, two 400kV transformers constantly work to distribute electricity to 800,000 residents in the cities of Helsinki and Vantaa.

Architect Bratislav Toskovic, from Helsinki-based Parviainen, was in charge of the redesign. The main inspiration was electricity, and the visual element of light, he says. I wanted to convert concrete structures into lanterns.

To achieve that, he clad the substations three buildings with glazed glass panels detached from the buildings walls by 60cm and lined them with LED lights, which at night transform the complex into a glowing beacon. As the plant is visible from a major highway, Toskovic had the idea that it could be a landmark. Usually, energy reaches a substation through high-tension trunk lines, which run down to the transformers via a steel framework portal.

Portals are usually ugly and boring-looking, Toskovic says. But this location is so exposed: thousands of people see it on a daily basis

Hence, he replaced the steel frames with two 47-metre-tall orange arches. They are made of weathering steel, an alloy famous for its rusty appearance and its resistance to both corrosion and tension which earned the material the trademarked name COR-TEN. Toskovic says that the arches colour blends with its surroundings at any season. Even better: they do not need any maintenance. They are [almost] 50 metres high. If one had to repaint them, it would be a big job.


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