Client: Buildner Architecture Competition
Status: Competition (2022)
Clasification: Honour mention
Location: Hverfjall, Iceland
Coordinates: 65.6135833, -16.8755
Climate: Artic / polar, Cold
Visualizer: ZDA Zupelli Design Architettura
Scale: 600 ㎡ Small
Types: Cultural, Cultural center
“Qui su l’arida schiena
Del formidabil monte
La qual null!altro allegra arbor nè fiore,
Tuoi cespi solitari intorno spargi,
Contenta dei deserti.”
Giacomo Leopardi, La ginestra
The genista grows spontaneously on rocky, often volcanic areas, adapting to any type of soil and temperature, exposing itself to the sun and surviving the coldest, harshest and most impervious conditions. It improves degraded, inaccessible terrain, making impossible situations habitable for other plants and providing unexpected colours and smells while beautifying otherwise bare landscapes.
Inspired by its uniqueness, the architectural project GENISTA relates to the intrinsic characteristics of the surrounding landscape and, adopting an attitude of aesthetic and material adaptation to the place, it dialogues with the absolute protagonist of the landscape, the volcano. The building, indeed, arises from the awareness of fitting into an already existing natural scenery in where the infinite vastness of the valley and the stunning grandeur of the volcano are the absolute protagonists. Therefore, it can’t do anything but assume a secondary position in the landscape and give shelter to travellers, welcoming and surprising them with its architectural properties.
The preliminary analysis of the context becomes essential. The striking austerity and harshness of the landscape become pivotal in the design process. The building envelope, whose wedge-shaped form reminds the mountains in the background, is covered with black stone shingles cladding, reminiscent of the flood basalt present in the area, visually and physically connecting the building to the landscape. The courtyard opens into the building like a crater in a volcano, hosting an inner garden. It unexpectedly encloses several different local botanical species which are not found within miles. So, similarly to an isolated oasis in the desert, the courtyard gives new colours and smells, becoming the perfect frame for the inner life of the visitor centre, as the perfect place to rest after a long walk.