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Polish architects best in international competition

19 of July '22

The Iceland Volcano Coffee Shop competition organized by the Buildner platform was full of successful Polish teams. This time we present The Underhill Experience, a project by Weronika Plata and Wiktor Stankiewicz, which won First Prize! The jury appreciated the bold proposal of an object imitating a hill and cutting through the Icelandic landscape.

The challenge of the international Iceland Volcano Coffee Shop competition organized by Buildner in cooperation with the owners of the Vogar farmland was to design a coffee shop located at the foot of Iceland's Hverfjall volcano. The facility was to offer visitors a place to have a drink, relax, some information about the volcano's history and an exhibition space.

Kształt budynku imituje wzgórze

The shape of the building mimics a hill

© Weronika Plata, Wiktor Stankiewicz

Poles with the main prizes!

The works submitted from all over the world were judged by a jury consisting of: Marshall Blecher (MAST), Borghildur Indriðadóttir (Icelandic artist), Filipe Rodrigue and Inês Vicente (Atelier Data), Sigrún Sumarliðadóttir (Studio Bua), Yu-Ying Tsai (ZJJZ Atelier) and Magic Kwan and Kenrick Wong (Orient Occident Atelier). They awarded the First Prize and the Investors' Prize to a project entitled The Underhill Experience by Weronika Plata and Victor Stankiewicz.

The design of The Underhill Experience cuts through the landscape in a dramatic way, creating a fissure that frames the volcano and puts visitors in direct contact with the geology of the site. This proposal for landscaping architecture successfully combines landscape and building [ ...]. The project is a radical approach, but solves it at a very high level. The interesting cut and shape relate to the geographical conditions and the character of the volcanic tuffs," reads the jury's opinion.

Meanwhile, the Second Prize and the Archhive Student Award went to Kamil Bryłka for the Volcano Visitors Center project .

Projekt The Underhill Experience, PZT

The designed building splits the mountain trail

© Weronika Plata, Wiktor Stankiewicz

contemplating the Icelandic landscape

Studying the rugged landscape of the volcanic desert, one gets the impression that human presence is unwelcome here. Rocky expanses, harsh weather conditions and a vast horizon line - these are constant aspects of the immediate surroundings of the Hverfjall volcano. At the foot of the volcano, we can listen to the sound of the wind, imagining an eruption thousands of years ago. Since then, the volcano's surroundings have been formed by natural erosion processes, creating Iceland's heritage. We believe that when interfering with the natural landscape, we should not focus only on the area directly at the foot of the Hverfjall volcano. It is important to see the potential of further landmarks not far from the project site, such as other volcanoes, caves or lakes. The answer to this thesis is a proposal to create a looped educational path near the Lake Mývatn waterfront, which would offer a holistic and nature-embedded experience, the authors say.

Wnętrze kawiarni z widokiem na jezioro

Interior of the cafe overlooking the lake

© Weronika Plata, Wiktor Stankiewicz

The Underhill Experience

In addition to the spaces required by the competition regulations: a café, an office and an exhibition room, the building, embedded in a small hill, also offers a place for hikers. Here they can indulge in wildlife contemplation or acquire information about the area.

Theshape of the building imitating a hill is a backdrop for the Hverjall volcano, which we believe should dominate the space. The crack in the structure of the embankment fits in with the continuation of the direction of the existing hiking trail and provides a frame for the scenic opening to the landscape, which deserves priority mention. The underground part of the building brings visitors closer to the geological origins of the surrounding landscape and offers the impression of a natural refuge, the architects explain.

Projekt The Underhill Experience, rzut

0 level plan.

© Weronika Plata, Wiktor Stankiewicz

In addition, the part hidden underground allows two-way communication between the seemingly separate above-ground segments. Partial illumination of the rooms of the underground floor was provided by dynamic openings in the first floor ceiling and mezzanines. Environmentally friendly solutions and the use of natural sources were taken into account in the design process.

 W centrum sali ekspozycyjnej znajduje się łódź wikingów  Kawiarnia składa się z dwóch poziomów

A Viking boat was placed in the interior

© Weronika Plata, Wiktor Stankiewicz

viking boat

In the museum part of the building, the most important, central point of the composition is a structure formed of suspended footbridges, from which the original Viking boat can be admired. This is a reference to the history of Iceland and the close proximity of Lake Mývatn.

The usable area of the entire building is about 950 square meters, and, as the architects assure, thanks to the mass, which resembles an earth embankment, resistance to strong winds is ensured.

Also read about other projects in Iceland, including: 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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