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Renowned for its unique, unspoiled landscapes, Iceland is also home to some architectural monuments worth seeing and visiting. One of Reykjavík best-known landmarks, Hallgrimskirkja, is an awe-inspiring Lutheran place of worship located on a hilltop and therefore visible throughout the city. In 2019, around 300,000 admission tickets to the church tower were sold, but it is estimated that at least twice as many visitors enter the church every year.

Officially the largest church in Iceland and the second tallest building on the island, Hallgrimskirkja was designed in 1937 by one of the country most renowned architects, Guðjón Samúelsson. He  referred to the classic Iceland national style, officially defined "Icelandic Basaltic”, mixing it with elements taken from expressionism and neo-Gothic architecture. In his project, Samúelsson wanted to achieve a perfect harmony between the artificial construction and the surrounding environment. He therefore took inspiration from the typical Iceland natural elements, such as glaciers, mountains and lava formations, in particular the hexagonal basalt columns that surround the Svartifoss waterfall in Skaftafell Nature Reserve, which have influenced the architecture of many structures in Iceland, as well as a whole host of other artistic projects.

Made in white concrete, the church monumental façade features a 74.5-meter-high bell tower, on top of which there is a decorated spire containing 29 bells. Resembling the typical basalt cliffs of Iceland, the slim ascending and descending pillars of the side wings complete the front layout of the church, delivering it an impressive appearance. Side walls and rear semi round apse are characterized by an array of narrow neo-gothic windows separated by thin squared columns. Consisting of three naves with a cross vault enriched by a large pipe organ, the internal layout of this wonderful Icelandic church is an example of neo-Gothic style. With its architectural uniqueness, Hallgrimskirkja has become an important symbol of Iceland's national identity since its completion in 1986.

Hallgrimskirkja, Reykjavík
Reykjavík, Iceland
Lighting design
Örn Erlendsson, Guðjón L. Sigurðsson, Kateřina BlahutováLiska ehf. (
Product supply
Luxor ehf. (
Örn Erlendsson, Liska ehf. (
In spring 2022, Liska, a renowned lighting design company based in Reykjavík, submitted an initial design proposal to the Parish Committee of Hallgrímskirkja, which required a new illumination for the exterior and interior of the church. The concept was approved shortly after and Liska was charged with the important task of replacing the existing, out-of-date partial illumination of the façade, delivering a brand-new lighting concept to the entire structure. After a careful evaluation of product performance, features, and installation, Griven’s lighting solutions, specified by the creatively driven rental, sales, and technical production company Luxor, were chosen by Liska to fulfill this project.  

Örn Erlendsson, lighting designer with Liska, explains the project concept: "Hallgrímskirkja plays an important role in our culture as it is part of Icelandic architectural heritage. The church attracts attention all over the world for its unique design and impressive layout and is a popular destination for the many tourists visiting our country every year. It can be seen from all over the capital area, but until now only its main façade had been illuminated. Redesigning its outdoor lighting at 360°, we wanted to enhance all its architectural features, as well as its walls’ characteristic texture.”

Liska chose a smart lighting system with automatic lighting cycles that could save energy in the harsh Nordic weather conditions. They conceived diverse eye-catching lighting scenes delivering depth to the finest architectural details of the church, while increasing its spatial dimensionality. "This new lighting system brings new possibilities, as DMX controllers offer the option of having either a solid lighting or multiple dynamic colour scenes connected to different events or occasions. The church general lighting is controlled by a calendar and midnight dimming is used to reduce light pollution as much as possible. Coloured lighting is activated by a calendar in line with special occasions, but special scenes can also be activated manually” clarifies Alfreð Sturla, Head of sales, lighting and set designer with Luxor, Griven’s partner in Iceland.

A total of 245 Griven’s lighting fixtures were used to deliver the required scheme to the exterior surfaces of the church. 46 DUNE MK3 in RGBW colour configuration with spot optics have been embedded in the pavement in front of the church to enlighten its façade and side wings, while 6 units of CAPITAL 200 Ultra Spot light up the front part of the steeple up to its spire. An array of PARADE L3 and L4 deliver amazing light accents to the side walls of the church, while PARADE L1 with wall wash optics enhance the semi round external walls of the apse. Over 60 units of PARADE L4 have been used to illuminate the roof all round the church. JUPTERs with spot optics enhance smaller architectural details to complete the all-over scheme. All the installed fixtures are managed via a Pharos DMX control system providing the versatility, flexibility, and power required by this demanding project.

"The renewal of Hallgrimskirkja outdoor lighting was due by the end of October 2022 and we are glad we accomplished this challenging task along with our professional partners in time. We would like to thank all parties involved for the excellent cooperation, especially the company Fagraf that carried out the technical and practical implementation of the work in a perfect way” affirms Örn Erlendsson.  

Client: Hallgrímskirkja Parish
Lighting design: Örn Erlendsson, Guðjón L. Sigurðsson, Kateřina BlahutováLiska ehf. (
Project management, programming, testing and commissioning:  Liska ehf.
Project partners:  Hallgrímskirkja parish
Product supply: Alfreð Sturla Böðvarsson Luxor ehf. (
Electrical contractor: Fagraf ehf (
Pictures: Örn Erlendsson  (    

Products installed:
46X AL5003 SPRN DUNE MK3 RGBW spot 
38x AL5070 NARNRGC PARADE L3 RGBW narrow
14x AL5075 NARNRGC PARADE L4 RGBW narrow
57x AL5060 WWRNRGC PARADE L1 RGBW wall wash
62x AL5075 WWRNRGC PARADE L4 RGBW wall wash
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