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Samkomuhús, or meeting house. A project for a restaurant-greenhouse and touristic settlement in Iceland

02 of March '22

Iceland Greenhouse Restaurant is the fifth Bee Breeders competition focusing onIceland's extraordinary landscape . This time the goal was to design a greenhouse combined with a restaurant to be built near Lake Mývatn. Agnieszka Grzemska, Jakub Wichtowski and Jan Zielinski created Samkomuhús, a low-tech style settlement as a meeting place. The UAP students' project was shortlisted for the competition.

As part of the international Iceland Greenhouse Restaurant competition, which was created in cooperation with Vogafjós farm, participants were tasked with designing a greenhouse combined with a restaurant that could accommodate one hundred guests near Lake Mývatn. Such a greenhouse would allow Vogafjós farm to grow salad vegetables, fruits and berries, which would then be served in the restaurant along with local products. The organizers were looking for sustainable designs that included standard amenities: a proper kitchen, storage space and restrooms. The owners also expressed interest in creating a restaurant where customers could see firsthand the processes of food production and preparation, as well as introducing additional features such as a multipurpose hall to be used for events such as movie screenings and yoga classes.

Projekt Samkomuhús,
plan zagospodarowania  Projekt Samkomuhús, rzut
jednego z modułów

A project for a tourist settlement and greenhouse near Lake Mývatn

© Agnieszka Grzemska, Jakub Wichtowski, Jan Zielinski

UAP students' project on the short list

The submitted works were evaluated by a jury consisting of: David Ceaser (Agritecture), Pálmar Kristmundsson (PK Arkitektar), Katie MacDonald (After Architecture), Oscar Rodriguez (Architecture & Food), Christina Seilern (Studio Seilern Architects), Valdis Steinarsdottir (experimental designer). The jury awarded five grand prizes, six honorable mentions, and shortlisted projects. This list included the work Samkomuhús by students from the Magdalena Abakanowicz University of Arts in Poznań, composed of: Agnieszka Grzemska, Jakub Wichtowski, Jan Zieliński.

Projekt Samkomuhús,
moduły widziane z góry Projekt Samkomuhús to osada turystyczna

Thenew settlement could be a place to meet and grow vegetation

© Agnieszka Grzemska, Jakub Wichtowski, Jan Zieliński

Samkomuhús - a meeting house

Home is the place where a person feels best. When traveling, we recall its cozy atmosphere, especially when the architecture of hostels and tourist spots encountered along the way seems unfriendly. These facilities are often alien in feel, contribute to the degradation of the ecosystem through excessive waste production and consumption, and light pollution. Traveling is a way to experience local culture and communities, which together form the essence of a place. However, some of us choose a scenario limited to the micro-worlds of venues for global tourism, which often lack a sense of locality and character, the project's authors say.

new settlement

Following a local motif - an Icelandic rural landscape with scattered houses - the students' concept is to disperse smaller building modules and create a new settlement.

The new village is a cultural encounter, combining global and local, remaining alive even outside the tourist season. The settlement's units, attractive to both local residents and tourists from around the world, create a home-like atmosphere, the designers explain.

Projekt Samkomuhús,
po stronie południowej autorzy umieścili okna Projekt Samkomuhús, wnętrze

The greenhouse also has room for box cultivation carried out by local residents

© Agnieszka Grzemska, Jakub Wichtowski, Jan Zieliński

Each designed module can accommodate twenty-five guests - visitors with five cars. The kitchen, located in the center of the module, was designed to bring strangers together at one table and allow them to cook together to get to know each other and integrate. The kitchen, as well as the rest and activity spaces surrounded by greenery, are directly connected to the greenhouse. There, the cultivation of plants that provide food for the restaurant's guests is combined with box cultiv ation carried out by local residents, an extension of their home gardens. Shaded areas in the interior of the modules are dedicated to growing mushrooms and sprouts.

fitting in with the surroundings

The arrangement of the modules was dictated by climatic conditions, winter shade and the intention to establish courtyards sheltered from the wind where trees could grow (Iceland's reforestation project). The semicircular shape of the module is not only a favorable ratio of usable area to facade area, but also good heat retention inside the building. A green roof, accessible from the stairs at the entrance, sinks the building into the landscape and acts as part of the rainwater collection system.

Projekt Samkomuhús,
rozwiązania projektowe Projekt Samkomuhús,

The authors used low tech solutions in the design

© Agnieszka Grzemska, Jakub Wichtowski, Jan Zieliński

low tech solutions

In the design, the authors used low tech solutions, thus minimizing the negative impact on the environment and avoiding excessive heat loss. The only glazed south wall lets warm sunlight in. Full thermal mass side walls accumulate heat during the day and give it back at night, allowing plants to survive in the harsh Icelandic climate.

The establishment of the new settlement comes with the responsibility of developing it into an uncertain future - the VUCA concept. The outline of the development includes further dispersal of greenhouse modules, combined with various functions, depending on the needs of the community, the authors conclude.

Read also about other projects of unusual facilities in Iceland: aSPA CENTER by Pawel Danielak, aCIRCLE OF NATURE sauna , Aurora Polarisviewing facilities by Wave Architecture and ICELAND VOLCANO MUSEUMdesigned by Gaska Studio.

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