TIME architecture

The World’s Largest Sauna Has Opened In Norway, And It Is Stunning

Photograph by Martin Losvik; Courtesy of salted.no Salt Sauna, Bodø, Norway

It's part of the year-long SALT festival

Do you enjoy sweating and listening to ambient music, but find that it’s difficult to find space large enough for you and 100 of your closest associates to do these things together? Well, you’re in luck.

That’s right, the world’s largest sauna just opened in Norway as part of the year-long SALT festival–a celebration of the architecture and culture of the Arctic. According to Architectural Digest, the sauna, also known as the agora, is a “a massive timber construction set on a beach overlooking the Arctic Ocean.”

The sauna, “which seats up to 150 people, more closely resembles a set of bleachers or an amphitheater than the average boxy sauna,” according to the report. “In fact, when the space is not heated, it will be used as a lecture hall for festival events. And for those who need a respite from the heat, there’s actually a bar inside offering cool libations.”

One-way flights from New York to Oslo start at around $550. You can’t afford not to.

TIME norway

Norwegian Mass Murderer Accepted to Oslo University

Anders Behring Breivik listens to the judge in the courtroom, in Oslo, Norway on Aug. 24, 2012.
Frank Augstein—AP Anders Behring Breivik listens to the judge in the courtroom, in Oslo, Norway on Aug. 24, 2012.

He won't be able to interact with university students or staff

Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik, the gunman who killed 77 people near Oslo in 2011, was accepted to Oslo University from his prison cell to study political science.

Breivik gained admission to the university on Friday, but will have no contact with professors or students as he completes his course of study through prison staff during his 21-year prison sentence. Breivik’s first application to the university was rejected last year.

“All inmates in Norwegian prisons have a right to pursue higher education in Norway if they meet the admission requirements and are successful in competition with other applicants,” wrote Ole Petter Ottersen, the university’s rector, in an online statement. “It is part of the universities’ mission to uphold democratic values, ideals and practices, also when these are challenged by heinous acts.”

On July 22, 2011, Breivik killed eight by detonating a bomb in Oslo and then opened fire at a youth camp on a nearby island, killing 69 people.

TIME norway

Norway Police Fired Guns Twice Last Year, Missed Both Times

Police in Norway don't usually carry guns

Norwegian police only fired their guns twice in 2014, and no one was hurt by either shot.

That’s according to new data released by the Norwegian government that details how the country’s police force uses their weapons, reports the Washington Post. In 2014, the police threatened to use their weapons 42 times, but only actually fired twice, and neither shot injured the target.

In 10 of the past 12 years, police have not fatally shot anyone in the country. One reason for these low numbers may be that police in Norway don’t usually carry guns, according to the Post.

[Washington Post]

TIME Cycling

Watch This Norwegian Reporter Try to Eat as Much as a Tour de France Cyclist

It doesn't end well

Ever wondered what would happen if you, an ordinary mortal, ate like the beautifully honed physical specimen that is a Tour de France Cyclist? Now you don’t have to. Norwegian journalist Nicolay Ramm has recorded a video of his heroic effort to match the 8,000 calories Tour cyclists eat on every day of their punishing 2,100-mile, 23-day ordeal. It goes about as well as you might think.

The diet itself isn’t so unusual — it’s the sheer quantity that does it. Take breakfast, for example. Coffee, oatmeal and eggs all sound like pretty standard fare. But in the first “stage” of his culinary Tour, Ramm also downs orange juice, and a smoothie, three ham and cheese sandwiches, four ounces of pasta, and a yogurt.

For a snack, Ramm eats an apple and banana, a handful of nuts, and two energy bars, plus more coffee. (Tour cyclists, the video says, drink “enormous” amounts of coffee.) Then he adds what cyclists would grab during the ride: two croissants, two cans of Coke, seven energy bars, two energy gels, and a generous sprinkling of sports drink. That’s where the intrepid journalist can take no more. Trying valiantly to finish off the gels, he instead admits defeat, running to the bathroom with lunch and dinner still uneaten.

He consumes 4,300 calories in just over five hours. Not even close.

TIME OECD

These Are the Best Places in the World to Be a Woman in Politics, According to the OECD

Banking And General Views As Iceland's Bankruptcy-to-Recovery Mode Proves Viable
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images The city skyline is seen illuminated by lights at night in Reykjavik, Iceland, on Friday, Aug. 10, 2012.

Most countries are not hitting benchmarks for female representation in politics, however

Aspiring female politicians should consider moving to Finland or Sweden, where women have the most representation in government, according to new OECD data.

The findings, published July 6 as a part of the OECD’s Government at a Glance report, saw Nordic countries leading the way for women’s representation both in lower houses of parliament and in ministerial positions.

These countries are likely to benefit greatly from this representation, the OECD says. More equal gender representation can help governments institute better policies surrounding work-life balance, gender violence and equal pay.

But the overall trend is not as promising in the rest of the OECD, where things have only gotten marginally better for women’s representation in politics since 2002.

The report found that 16 out of the 34 OECD countries are failing to meet the desired 30% threshold of representation in both lower houses of parliament and ministerial positions.

Among the worst performers are Hungary, South Korea and Turkey. The U.S. and the U.K. also showed below average representation.

You can read the full report here.

TIME World

This Nintendo Fan Took 800 Hours to Crochet a Giant Replica Super Mario Blanket

Talk about a labor of love

Most people have a hobby. And if you’re Norwegian Super Mario superfan Kjetil Nordin, that hobby us crocheting a scene from your favorite video game.

Nordin took 800 hours over the course of six years to recreate a scene from Super Mario Bros as a 2.2 by 1.8 meter (approximately 7-foot 2-inches by 5-foot 10-inches) crocheted blanket, the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK) reports.

Nordin told NRK that the job included searching for yarn colors that exactly matched those in the game. “When the water was half way finished I saw that I had chosen the wrong shade of blue,” he said. “It was almost purple, and very ugly, so I had to undo all of it. That took an extra week.”

At the moment, he doesn’t know what his next project will be. “I can’t rush it. I’ll have a break, and think for a while,” he said.

[NRK]

TIME On Our Radar

Eight Norwegian Photographers You Need to Follow

The Norwegian Journal of Photography (NJP) has released the latest issue of its biennial survey of the Scandinavian country’s contemporary documentary photography scene, showcasing the work of eight photographers.

The publishers — photographers and photo editors Rune Eraker, Laara Matsen and Espen Rasmussen — combed through close to 100 applications and submissions to arrive at its final list of eight photographers, using funding from the Fritt Ord Foundation, a non-profit devoted to freedom of expression, to produce the high-quality book.

“We look for strong voices,” Espen tells TIME, “and we also look for photographers who challenge the term ‘documentary photography’. Do they have a style, something to tell us, do they surprise us or challenge us? Do they create any feelings for us as a viewer? And we consider the project proposals to see if the project is original, if it has relevance and whether it is possible to work on during the 18 months they have available before the book deadline.”

Once chosen, the NJP works with these photographers to craft and edit their long term projects, and to find financial support. It also offers them seminars and classes with international lecturers.

TIME talked to the eight photographers.

Jonas Bendiksen, a member of Magnum Photo, has shot for major publications around the world, including National Geographic. Yet, for the past two years, he’s taken a different approach, joining the staff of Bladet Vesterålen, a local newspaper with a circulation of just 8,000. “I realized that after 15 years of photography, I had never worked for a newspaper,” he told TIME. “I love newspapers. In a way, for me to do a daily beat has been somewhat of a romantic dream for some time. When my fiancé, now my wife, got work as a doctor in a small community in the north of Norway, I felt this was a chance, and I asked Bladet Vesterålen if I could work for them. They gave me a position, and sent me out in the local communities. For me, it was a personal way of somewhat giving a homage to the institution of the local newspaper, which is sort of the backbone of everything a documentary photographer or photojournalist does. It is storytelling on a very direct level, on a daily basis. There was something really refreshing for me to take pictures one day, have it published the next, and meet the person in the picture in the supermarket the next day.”

Mathilde Pettersen was first introduced to photography in high-school when she discovered the darkroom. “Seeing the results of my work coming to life, I understood that this was my mission and that I was hooked for life,” she said. “I have been working with this project since 2008 when I was pregnant with my first child. I wanted to document the changes in the female body and the arrival of a child. I am exploring human nature, motherhood, the ‘circle of life’.”

Anne-Stine Johnsbråten was first given a camera to document her first day at school when she was seven years old “I still vividly remember waiting for the postman to deliver the processed film after the two weeks wait.” Her series on the economic, ethnic and cultural differences between east and west Oslo help complicate our picture of Norwegian society. “This is a very personal project to me,” she said. “Growing up in the eastern part of Oslo, the division of the city has always puzzled me, and the idea for the project has been brewing for years. Finally, NJP was the perfect excuse to get the project started.”

Knut Egil Wang first photographed a bridge construction project from start to finish when he was in high-school. “I soon realized that the images I valued the most were those from before the construction work began,” he said. “Small changes happen constantly and often unnoticed. Suddenly all of them make a big difference. This fascination for how soon our present becomes history made me want to be a documentary photographer.” For his current project, he says, “I have been traveling along the San Andreas Fault line before ‘The Big One’ strikes. Largely invisible, yet capable of massive destruction: we know a lot about earthquakes, but what can we do about it? Not much. Life goes on as if nothing is going to happen.” In fact, Knut says, “When I got there, I was surprised to find that many [people] didn’t even know they were living on the fault line.”

Margaret M. De Lange said that photography has always moved her. “Some of my earliest memories of this were magazines with photojournalism from the Vietnam War. The images made a lasting impression on the young girl I once was. [Now] I’m always taking pictures of the people and situations around me. As time goes by patterns emerge and my projects take shape. In this project I’m exploring vulnerability and the strength it takes to allow yourself to be seen at your most exposed. It examines intimacy in all its shapes and sizes.”

Terje Abusdal started shooting photos in his early teens. “I built a darkroom in our sauna and learned by doing and reading books. I picked it up again seriously in 2011 when I went on a month-long road trip with the Greek photographer [and Magnum member] Nikos Economopoulos, and since then I haven’t looked back.” Recalling the origins of his current project, Terje said “I used to be the next door neighbor to a music festival in Oslo. For most of the days I didn’t have a ticket, and I hated lying in bed listening to the music with everybody else having fun. So I took my tent and fled to the island, as a festival refugee. Out there I found another world of its own, a hidden gem of anarchy just 15 minutes by boat from the center of town. It is full of real interesting characters and I found that through my photography I had a passport to approach anyone I wanted. The project explores the temporary identity of an island where people from all walks of life becomes neighbors for one season at a time. How does where they are and who they are with form them?”

Tomm W. Christiansen became a photographer almost by accident. “It was in 1994. I lived in Sweden at the time and didn’t know what to do with my life,” he said. “Photography was a hobby. For some reason, the photo editor of the Gothenburg Post, Anders Hofgren, didn’t just dismiss me when I asked him for a chance to become a freelancer for the paper. He lent me a camera and even his car and sent me out to take a picture of an old lady running a voluntary telephone service. I immediately realized I had found my place in life.” Today, though his project The Bloodlands he is exploring how the violent past affects the present life of the people in Berdychiv, a small town in Ukraine. “After my first trip to Ukraine I realized that Bloodlands is not only a geographical term, it is also a state of mind. Decades of war and unrest has profoundly affected the people living here.”

Ivar Kvaal’s father used to be a photographer, and introduced him to the art form at an early age. His current project is about a peculiar and recurring UFO sighting near a small town in Norway, featured on TIME LightBox earlier this week. “I strive for aesthetically appealing and interesting photographs, conveyed by an underlying idea or theme,” he said. “The resulting images are often lyrical and of a fictitious nature, revealing beauty in the subtle details. I want my images to suggest stories rather than dictate a narrative. Communicating feelings are just as important as telling the story.”

Myles Little is an associate photo editor at TIME.

TIME portfolio

See the Norwegian Town at the Center of a UFO Mania

In Norway's Hessdalen valley, strange lights have sparked a photographer's interest

Hessdalen, a valley in the Norwegian countryside, isn’t in the pristine north or by the magnificent fjords in the west. It’s, in fact, an unremarkable place of scrubby, low-lying hills; a former mining center that has slipped into depression and depopulation. It is unremarkable — except for the strange and unexplained lights.

They appear in the sky, moving slowly, separating and reforming, winking in and out. At other times they shoot down the valley and disappear, or simply switch on for a moment and vanish. I know what you’re thinking — but there’s video footage.

Word of the phenomena didn’t leave this tight-knit, insular community for quite a while. But in December 1981, the lights shone brighter, outsiders took notice, and the press descended.

The town attracted both legit scientists and spectators from across Europe. “Most people are [just] enthusiasts,” Norwegian photographer Ivar Kvaal tells TIME, “but I have also met the oddball fanatic. It’s divided. Most of the villagers are sane and honest.”

Kvaal says that “some of the villagers have hopes of making some money from UFO tourism. They tried to run a small gift shop, but it had to close. Now you can get souvenirs at the local pub, when it’s open.” Mostly, what the town has gotten is ridicule, which made it especially hard for Kvaal to gain people’s trust.

Theories for these occurrences abound: the light comes from ionized gases in the atmosphere, or ball lightning, or decaying radon. The earth itself is acting like a giant battery — which some say could be tapped for clean energy. And, of course, others believe these are aliens.

Kvaal isn’t interested in any of these theories. He’s never seen the lights himself. “I’m interested in how the lights have affected the community and the people,” he says.

This is instead, as Mark Durant writes of the work, “a meditation on the human desire to experience the otherworldly.”

Through a mixture of documentary photos, archival material, still lifes and portraits of believers, Kvaal creates a quiet but suggestive series about, in Durant’s words, “one of those forlorn frontiers where the mysterious and the desperate coincide to produce a new culture of wonder and paranoia.”

One of those frontiers where belief precedes evidence, and where the truth is always just around the corner.

Ivar Kvaal is a photographer based in Oslo.

Myles Little is an associate photo editor at TIME.

TIME Switzerland

This Country Has the World’s Happiest People

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Dale Reubin—Getty Images/Cultura RF View of mountains and lakeside village, Switzerland

Life expectancy, social connections, personal freedom and the economy all play a role in happiness

The happiest people in the world live in Switzerland, a new study found.

The third World Happiness Report, released by the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Solutions Network on Thursday, ranked 158 countries based on Gallup surveys from 2012-15 and analyzed the key factors contributing to happiness levels.

Switzerland, Iceland, Denmark, Norway and Canada were the top five happiest countries, while the West African nation of Togo was the least happy.

The report aims to provide policymakers around the world with new metrics that place a higher emphasis on subjective well-being. While income appeared to play a significant role in boosting happiness—the GDP per capita is 25 times higher in the 10 happiest countries than in the 10 least happy—it was far from the only factor. Life expectancy, social connections, personal freedom, generosity and corruption levels also helped explain the happiness scores, according to the report.

The U.S., for example, ranked 15th in the world, one below Mexico and three below Costa Rica, where per capita GDP is roughly a fifth of that in the U.S.

“This report gives evidence on how to achieve societal well-being,” Jeffrey Sachs, the director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, said in a statement. “It’s not by money alone, but also by fairness, honesty, trust, and good health.”

But sharp economic changes in a country can play a role in people’s happiness, the report found. Greece, where the global recession triggered prolonged economic turmoil, saw its happiness levels fall the most since 2005-07, compared to 125 other countries where data was available.

Still, the report warned policymakers against overemphasizing income levels.

“When countries pursue GDP in a lopsided manner, forgetting about social and environmental objectives, the results can be adverse for human well-being,” the report said. “Many countries in recent years have achieved economic growth at the cost of the sharply rising inequalities of income and grave damage to the natural environment.”

TIME norway

Norway to Scrap FM Radio for the Digital Era

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Jean-Pierre Lescourret—Getty Images/Lonely Planet Images Karl Johans Gate

Officials promise "better sound quality and new functionality"

Norway will become the first country to scrap FM radio after it announced final plans to switch to digital radio in the next two years.

The government said in a statement that it will make the transition to Digital Audio Broadcasting by 2017, following up on a 2011 government proposal. It will be the first country to do away entirely with FM radio, The Verge reports.

The move will allow for roughly 40 national channels, including 22 already in use, compared to five national channels on the FM system. Transmission costs are also eight times more expensive on the FM network than the DAB network.

“Radio digitization will open the door to a far greater range of radio channels, benefiting listeners across the country,” Minister of Culture Thorhild Widvey said in a statement. “Listeners will have access to more diverse and pluralistic radio-content, and enjoy better sound quality and new functionality.”

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