We present another success story of an architecture graduate from Poznan University of Technology. He Paweł Danielak participated in the international competition "Thermal Blue", organized by UNI competitions and won as many as two awards! He received the first place for his work "Slóð". The design of the spa center in Iceland is also a master's thesis, which won the top prize in the Concrete Architecture 2020 competition.
"Slóð" in Icelandic means a streak, path, or trail. This word was also used by Pawel Danielak in titling his master's thesis, done under the supervision of Dr. Marian Fikus. The project is a response to the task of the international competition "Thermal Blue", whose challenge was to design a spa building with associated functions. The building, located near a hot spring in Iceland, was to lead a dialogue with the landscape by its form.
the building was to lead a dialogue with the landscape by its form
© Paweł Danielak
The location proposed by the competition organizers was Hveragerði, a small town in the southwestern part of Iceland, far from the ports. Hveragerði is located in a geothermal area known as the Hengilla region. The town's name means a place of hot springs. Geothermal energy has always been a key factor in its economy, and the town is known for its numerous greenhouse crops. The guideline was also to create a distinctive building embedded in the landscape, built with environmentally friendly materials and allowing visitors to admire the surrounding nature. The new building should include, among other things, a reception area, sanitary facilities, spaces for employees, offices, a restaurant, stores and, of course, the most important part with pools and a spa.
spa center inscribed in the surroundings
In creating the design of the spa center, Pawel Danielak was inspired by the harsh nature and climate of Iceland - tectonic movements, vibration diagrams, geysers, caves and landforms. The result was a single-story building on prefabricated earthquake-resistant concrete beams.
A hot river running along mountain gorges is a major tourist attraction
© Pawel Danielak
The first step before design was a moment of reflection, focusing on the most important values of the town of Hveragerði. The place is an important point on the tourist map of Iceland, mainly because of its unique natural values. A hot river running along picturesque mountain gorges is the main attraction that makes up Hvearegerði's natural landscape. The path leading to the river runs through the designated study area. The idea of the designed facility was to combine five interdependent aspects - the path, the slope, the river, but also the materials and activation of the area. The combination of these elements creates a bridge-path-building relationship, the young architect explains.
After analyzing the view axis running through the existing path leading to the main landscape dominant - the hot spring, the author placed the spa building, creating a spatial composition that emphasizes the relationship between man and the environment.
The spa center is a single-story building
© Pawel Danielak
The four-meter difference in height between the existing escarpment and the site, was the architect's impulse to create a continuation of the path while hiding the function of the building. This created a bridge-path relationship and two independent zones. Inspired by the movement of tectonic plates, Pawel Danielak divided the bridge into two perpendiculars staggered with respect to each other. The architecture of the building was placed in them. The sauna zone inside the building is a place of tranquility, while the public zone - a pathway, leads to a hiking trail located above the designed building.
The sauna zone is a place of tranquility
© Pawel Danielak
raw landscape, raw material
The homogeneous, monolithic character of the entire establishment was achieved by the author through the use of a single material. Both on the facade and inside the building it is concrete. The center of the project is the exit from the building to the hot spring. It gives the impression of a dark cave from which the outside world emerges. Consistency and frugality in the center of expression emphasize the minimalist character of the building without unnecessary details, while fitting it into the harsh landscape of Iceland.
design idea and schemes
© Paweł Danielak
As the architect says about the building:
The leitmotif of the project was to establish a dialogue between man and nature. The architecture of the building acts as a foreground for the aforementioned dialogue, blending into the surroundings - it does not draw the observer's attention away from what is most important - the landscape.
Pawel Danielak also took second place in the same competition - the jury appreciated his Circle of nature project.