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A film pavilion in Iceland. Award-winning project by students of the Warsaw University of Technology

28 of February '23

Maja Dziwok and Alexandra Dectot, students at the Faculty of Architecture at the Warsaw University of Technology, in response to the Iceland Movie Pavilion competition assignment, designed a minimalistic movie pavilion with a café that could be built in the Grjótagjá cave region in Iceland. The project, the authors say, encourages attention to the surrounding landscape and its role in Icelandic cinema. The Grjótagjá Trail work caught the attention of the jury, which awarded it an honorable mention.

The Iceland Movie Pavilion competition organized by the Bulidner platform sought the best designs for a movie pavilion in the Grjótagjá cave region, located near Lake Mývatn in northern Iceland. The ideas were to reflect the essence of Icelandic cinema, its distinctive style and unique history, and the centerpiece was to be a cinema that could accommodate up to fifty viewers. The pavilion was to be a place where visitors would learn about Icelandic cinema, and create a space to meet and share a passion for cinema and Iceland. In addition to the showcase of the place, the organizers were looking for an object that would be economical in construction and operation, and sustainable in terms of the solutions adopted, in the case of implementation of the winning work.

Pawilon dzieli się na dwie bryły pokryte spadzistym dachem

The pavilion is divided into two blocks covered with a sloping roof

© Maja Dziwok, Alexandra Dectot

honorable mention for PW students

The submitted works were judged by a jury consisting of: Pip Cheshire (Cheshire Architects, New Zealand), Ricardo Gomes (KWY. Studio, Portugal), Borghildur Indriðadóttir (artist from Iceland), Pablo Larroulet (LARROU ARQ—Pablo Larroulet Arquitectura, Chile), Mark Smyth andSigrún Sumarliðadóttir (Studio Bua, UK/Norway), Hans Jakob Wagner (PhD student at the Institute for Computational Design and Construction at the University of Stuttgart) Hanna Dís Whitehead (Studio Hanna Whitehead, Iceland).

Three grand prizes were awarded in the competition(First Prize + Client Favorite for the Slow Field project went to the team consisting of: China Carr and Dairon Riesgo from the United States), a special award for sustainable solutions, and six honorable mentions, among which was the Grjótagjá Trail project by Maja Dziwok and Alexandra Dectot from the Faculty of Architecture at Warsaw University of Technology.

Wnętrze kawiarni z widokiem na wulkan

The interior of a cafe overlooking the volcano

© Maja Dziwok, Alexandra Dectot

The authors of the project met while studying at the Warsaw University of Technology. Maja is a final-year English-language engineering student, while Alexandra is in the first year of her master's degree at ENSA Paris-Val de Seine and studying at the Faculty of Architecture as part of an Erasmus exchange program. They participated in the competition on the occasion of their joint Architectural Design classes in the seventh semester of their engineering studies under the guidance of instructors Prof. Elżbieta Dagna Ryńska, PhD Michal Pierzchalski and PhD Mateusz Płoszaj-Mazurek.

For both of us, working on the project was a particularly valuable experience, as we were able to benefit from the different design approaches and competencies each of us had acquired during our education. It was a great opportunity to share our skills and look at the design task from different points of view," say the authors.

Also participating in the competition was Antoni Soczynski of PW, whose work was shortlisted for the competition. You will read about the Cracked Movie Pavilion project soon in a separate article.

Część wystawiennicza

exhibition part

© Maja Dziwok, Alexandra Dectot

film landscape

The Grjótagjá Trail project refers to Iceland's natural landscape and its role in films made on the island.

In local productions, it is often a key plot element that sets the tone for the film. The unique landscape has inspired many filmmakers to take audiences on a journey—on the one hand a literal one, through breathtaking locations, but at the same time a more subtle, personal journey for the protagonist. This aspect was the main inspiration behind our proposal, the main intention of which is to invite visitors to immerse themselves in the island's nature, the students explain.

So that visitors could experience this, the authors proposed creating a path starting at the Grjótagjá caves and leading through the volcanic landscape to Lake Mývatn. The path is an alternative to the existing road, encouraging tourists to delve into the island's terrain and experience the Icelandic landscape.

Schemat projektowy pawilonu

design diagram of the pavilion

© Maja Dziwok, Alexandra Dectot

pavilion with a sloping roof

The designed pavilion is located at the very beginning of the newly created trail. The building consists of two blocks, spaced on opposite sides of the designed trail and oriented to point to major landmarks in the surroundings. The sloping roofs of the pavilion direct the eyes of tourists to the horizon and Lake Mývatn. Depending on the function of the rooms, the sloping roofs enlarge or reduce access to natural light. This treatment allows for a bright space in the open cafe and provides a distinctive cinematic atmosphere in the second block, which houses a movie theater.

Pawilon filmowy, aksonometria Pawilon filmowy, rzut parteru

axonometry and first floor plan of the pavilion

© Maja Dziwok, Alexandra Dectot

cafe overlooking the volcano

The first part of the pavilion is an open and bright café, surrounding a main core consisting of a reception area, staircase and bar. A large window running the full width of the wall provides year-round natural light and a view of the Hverfjall volcano.

The window acts as a screen that offers guests a different kind of spectacle, a glimpse of the ever-changing Icelandic landscape, the designers add.

Przekroje pawilonu filmowego

cross sections of the film pavilion

© Maja Dziwok, Alexandra Dectot

Immediately at the entrance to the pavilion is an open staircase, leading visitors to the basement, where the authors have placed an exhibition space and a conference room. The rooms are lit from above, which the authors say is reminiscent of Icelandic caves, or craters. This impression accompanies visitors while admiring the exhibition and on their way to the cinema room.

Projekt Grjótagjá Trail otrzymał wyróżnienie honorowe

The authors used natural materials in the design, and the roof was covered with vegetation

© Maja Dziwok, Alexandra Dectot

a contemporary version of Icelandic architecture

The structure of the building draws inspiration from traditional Icelandic peat houses—the main structure is a wooden frame filled with thermal insulation material, and the sloping roof is covered with vegetation. The raw and dark tan wood on the facade and the simple form help the building blend in with its surroundings, while the light plywood finishes in the interiors add coziness. The authors tried to use as many natural materials as possible, using concrete construction only in the floor slabs and foundations.

The Buildner platform is famous for organizing contests about Iceland. On the A&B portal we have published, among others: the design of an observation point by Piotr Dziewierz, Filip Sierak and Maria Zimnoch, a low tech settlement by a team consisting of: Agnieszka Grzemska, Jakub Wichtowski, Jan Zieliński, or a restaurant by Patrycja Ziemienowicz.

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