ARKÍS architects
Skriðuklaustur, Iceland
Community Centres
Sigurgeir Sigurjónsson photograph, Birgir Teitsson architect, Arnar Þór Jónsson architect

Snæfellsstofa Visitors’ Center

ARKÍS architects as Architects

1) How would you describe this building? Snæfellsstofa Visitors’ Center communicates the dignity of the surrounding nature and is closely connected to its immediate surroundings. It attracts visitors by its unique appearance and simultaneously works as an attractor for both indoor and outdoor activities. The Visitors’ Center is placed at the location of a pronounced change in elevation, where the building gently glides over the terrain. In plan, the building is shaped in X-form, as the building is divided into four parts where each of them can be utilized in different ways, depending on the season of the year. 2) What were the most important wishes/demands of the clients/in the competition? The main objective of the competition was to create an attractive and convenient framework for activities to highlight the role of a national park. The issue of operational efficiency, energy conservation and ecological views consistent with good environmental image was an important factor. 3) What inspired the building? The building form is inspired by the eternal creative force of the glacier; how it breaks its way through terrains or retreats and carves new, ever changing natural wonders into the landscape. These creations provide the spaces and forms found in the building. 4) In which ways are the buildings surroundings taken into consideration? (How does these powerful surroundings "correspond" with the building?) The immediate surroundings of the building directly affect the choice of materials and colors. The dark color of the building’s copper boarding (planking) corresponds with the surrounding mountain’s rock formations. The larch boarding corresponds with the surrounding woods of larch and the turf on the roof corresponds with the swamp in the surrounding valley. The placement of the building in the landscape is conceived as overhanging the edge of a cliff. 5) Can you say something about what kind of atmosphere the building expresses? Both the external and internal design of the building creates spaces and appearances, which reflect the peace, silence and the magnificence of surrounding mountains.

6) What were the main challenges of drawing/building the visitors centre? The main challenge was to have this building naturally sited in its environment and choosing the materials, so a visitor would experience a positive environmental impact during visits.

Another challenge was to communicate the message of sustainable design out to the community. This building is the first one in Iceland to undergo BREEAM assessment. By this ARKÍS is pointing out the importance of the environmental issues in architecture.

Project team
Gibraltar University
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Gibraltar University

Gibraltar, Gibraltar - Build completed in 2015
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