Buildner | Architecture competitions

Hverfjall in northern Iceland is what’s known as a “tuff ring” volcano or a tephra cone volcano. Located east of the volcanic Lake Mývatn, Hverfjall’s volcanic explosion crater is 1 km wide and approximately 140 meters deep. It is a popular hiking destination where visitors can easily access many parts of the crater via public hiking trails which can reach up to 200 meters in height.
Believed to have been created during a volcano eruption, Hverfjall is almost perfectly symmetrical, with a slight variation at the site of a landslide which took place several years ago. Its dark, captivating colours make it a popular tourist attraction and photography spot, and the site is protected, meaning visitors can only use the two approved hiking trails to access the crater, with all other areas restricted.

For this competition, architects and architecture enthusiasts are called to submit designs for a coffee shop that would be located at the base of the Hverfjall volcano. The new coffee shop would need to include facilities for a new visitor centre and a small exhibition room that would give visitors information about the volcano’s history. 
Winning designs should strike a balance of practical ideas and creative design that is sustainable, unique, and in keeping with the landscape.

In the Mývatn region, the gem of northern Iceland, the distant horizons made of fermenting
mudpots, incredible lava formations and steaming fumaroles are interrupted by the magnificent greatness of the Hverfjall volcano. An almost perfectly symmetrical volcano, at whose feet a human made artefact takes place, in juxtaposition with the stunning natural landscape: slightly built-in the ground, “Descent from Hverfjall” gently interpose itself in the land without being pretentious.
Inspired by the incredibly symmetrical shape of the volcano, the coffee shop arises from a square, then carved into an original shape which offers different views from every angle: from the ones that recalls the shape of traditional Icelandic turf houses, to the one that respectfully bows to the volcano. A subtle asymmetry is introduced in the design of the platforms.
From outside, the visitor is encouraged to come in following the slope that connects the hiking building to the building. On the sides, the stairs recall the raw nature of the surroundings.
From inside, visitors are introduced to the outside without fully revealing it, using one of Iceland’s most important feature: light. Natural light will paint the internal space through the ribbon windows that run across the roof’s perimeter and through the corners of the building, at eye level.
The external material (Concrete made with volcanic ash) matches the dark colour of the surrounding terrain, while the core of the coffee shop is made of weathering steel, to separate it conceptually and functionally from the rest of the building. Some of the interiors are made from burnt wood (shou sugi ban), to match the volcano’s nature.
In collaboration with Davide Avantini and Francesca La Ferrara
Back to Top