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The Moving Surface in Iceland. Students' project doubly awarded!

03 of March '21

TheIceland Cave Tower Competition is the fourth competition of the Bee Breeders platform, focusing on Iceland's extraordinary landscape. This time the goal was to design an observation point housing a small tourist center. Aleksandra Bieszka, Aleksandra Mucha and Maria Pielach approached the task in an unusual way - instead of a lookout tower, they created an object sunken into the terrain, placed on two tectonic plates. The jury appreciated the idea of the UAP students, awarding them second prize and the BB Student Award!

observation point in Iceland

The site for the competition study is located on the Vogar farm near Lake Mývatn in the northern part of the island. From the projected observation tower, users would be able to view the panorama of Vogagjá, a fissure in the ground resulting from seismic activity. The fissure marks the boundary between the two tectonic plates of the European and North American continents.

The Moving Surfaces

The award-winning project The Moving Surfaces

© Aleksandra Bieszka, Aleksandra Mucha, Maria Pielach

Vogagjá is also home to caves that have become popular baths, with waters naturally heated by volcanoes. The caves are visited by thousands of tourists every year; unfortunately, the surrounding lava fields are being destroyed due to the numerous excursions. Therefore, in addition to the observation point, the organizers sought a modular design solution for the walking paths to better protect the fragile natural surroundings.

Mapa terenu Punkt obserwacyjnych

The site is located on two tectonic plates

© Aleksandra Bieszka, Aleksandra Mucha, Maria Pielach

The project sought ecological solutions that fit in with the surroundings. The competition jury composed of: Louis Becker (Henning Larsen), Marshall Blecher (Marshall Blecher Studio), Jette Hopp (Snohetta), Borghildur Indriðadóttir, Kristina Loock (GMP) judged the entries on the feasibility of cost-effectiveness, resistance to extreme weather conditions, environmental responsibility, energy efficiency and aesthetic aspects.

UAP students with double award

Among the numerous projects submitted, the jury decided to award the second prize and the BB Student Award to the work The Moving Surfaces by Aleksandra Bieszka, Aleksandra Mucha and Maria Pielach from the University of Arts in Poznań.

As the jury's justification reads:

Moving Surfaces is an independent, reflective approach to the task, based on an in-depth analysis of the site and its context, by placing the building deep within the site, with subtle paths and iconic viewpoints. The result [...] presents a new identity - sculptural beauty. According to the jury, the proposal is simple, intelligent and iconic [ ...]. It is an understandable design, suggesting movement and creating a strong contrast with the landscape.

uwzględniły ruchy płyt tektonicznych

The observation point has an unusual horizontal shape

© Aleksandra Bieszka, Aleksandra Mucha, Maria Pielach

moving surfaces

The Moving Surfaces project was created in the Studio of Interpretation of Space under the direction of Prof. Andrzej Wielgosz and Łukasz Spychaj, at the University of Arts in Poznań.

The horizontal landscape of Iceland, as well as the harsh weather conditions, defined the shape of the project, which is a negation of the archetype - the vertical observation tower. The Moving Surface is a project that connects two tectonic plates - a kind of bridge between the continents. Despite its unusual shape, the object allows (as in the competition requirements) to observe Lake Mývatn and the Hverfjall volcano, the authors explain.

Dwie osobne
konstrukcje Ruch konstrukcji

The object is two separate structures that, like tectonic plates, move

© Aleksandra Bieszka, Aleksandra Mucha, Maria Pielach

The students decided on two, separate structures for a simple reason - the tectonic plates on which the project is placed move away from each other by about two centimeters every year. The structures, move with the plates, creating a mark, indicating the passage of time. The modular path that leads to the vantage point has a dodge placed over the junction of the two slabs, emphasizing their movement. This marking, with the passage of time, will move, highlighting the tectonic phenomenon.

path through the caves

The authors connected two caves - Kvennagjá and Karlagjá - with a viewpoint. This procedure defined the triangular shape of the entire establishment and helped to determine the route to the highest vantage point. This made the path to the summit attractive, and the passage through the caves made the trip more attractive.

Rzut obiektu Obiekt wpisano
w wzgórze

the building is caved in

© Aleksandra Bieszka, Aleksandra Mucha, Maria Pielach

The construction of the entire establishment was based on the principles of traditional Icelandic construction, which, due to the low availability of wood, uses stone and peat as the main building blocks. The main material that, the authors used, is concrete made from regional aggregate and volcanic ash as a binder.

The award-winning building has been integrated into the landscape by sinking into the terrain and covering the roof and walls with earth. Thanks to the streamlined shape of the hill under which the visitor center was placed, the building's structure better withstands harsh weather conditions. Large glazings used on the south side illuminate the interior and allow solar energy to be collected. Heat losses are offset by using thermal waters to heat the building.

Wnętrze kawiarni

You can also enjoy nature from the tourist center

© Aleksandra Bieszka, Aleksandra Mucha, Maria Pielach

The modular path created takes into account the expansion of infrastructure on both tectonic plates. Four points of support ensure stability and reduce environmental interference. Two sizes of modules allow building horizontally as well as vertically, creating exit and descent paths to yakin.

Read also about other projects of unusual buildings in Iceland: a spa center by Pawel Danielak, Circle of Nature sauna , aurora viewing facilities by Wave Architecture and Iceland Volcano Museum designed by Gaska Studio.

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