Architektron URANIA - Heavenly Stairs in Groningen

On December 14, 1990, the Dutch city of Groningen celebrated its 950th anniversary. Anniversary events included the international architecture event “The books of Groningen”. On the anniversary day, 9 monumental objects were opened at the entrances of the city of Groningen and the 10th in the city center. The author of the grand project “The books of Groningen” was a professor of American architecture who lived in Berlin at the time. When drawing up the project’s layout, determining the exact location and theme of each object, he based himself on the mysterious calculations that reviewers later jokingly called “the abracadabra.” He brought together several internationally renowned men to carry out the project, incl. Leonhard Lapin from Estonia. Leonhard Lapin later invited Enn Laansoo, a younger architect, to assist him.

The theme of the architecture of Estonian architects “Urania” was astronomy. The original idea was a 35m high tower, formed by the interweaving of two spiral staircases, cut at the top by a horizontal plane with an observatory. The original project would have cost HK 15 million. At the request of the organizers, a slightly more modest version was presented – an 18-meter meditation tower, consisting of a spiral staircase and two platforms angled to each other. The tower is located at the junction of the railways and lights up when trains pass. The Dutch liked to call it the “heavenly stairs”.




Leonhard Lapin, Enn Laansoo