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Iceland Guest House 2019

The Thermal Springs Guest House, along with the Volcano Museum and the Black Lava Fields Visitor Center, is one of three proposed projects connected by a common design language intended to provide way-finding for travelers. Referencing the vernacular architecture, lore and geological history of the area, they are intended to feel of the earth, while framing the views of the landscape and natural landmarks. 

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The interior spaces focus on a comforting and cozy experience, contrasting the harsh landscape.  The hearth is the center of the living space, encouraging guests to gather around a fire and enjoy each others company.  A communal kitchen creates another opportunity to spark interaction among guests using food to share and connect with new people.  As the rooms scatter, the living room extends itself between them creating "nooks and crannies" that foster more intimate living spaces. 

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These three designs feature fractured planes of earth playing off of the balance between an inward comfort to an outward movement connecting to the landscape, yet each building is a direct response its specific site and intended purpose.   This approach can be extended to a larger number of structures at additional sites throughout the region visually anchored by the Hverfjall Volcano. 


The traditional turf houses of Iceland were often buried in berms with one face presenting in a more decorated fashion.   The berms often connected a number of homes creating a unique style of living where people shared spaces and resources. Using this communal living style as inspiration, we treated each guest room as a separate turf house.  The front facades were manipulated to maximize the views of the landscape and northern lights as well as ensure that each room is private.


Having the building berm into the ground is important for retaining heat in the winter.  Being that Iceland has a large amount of turf suitable for construction, this is a sustainable way to achieve high insulation values. Geothermal heat is another common means of utilizing the surrounding resources and is proposed here in radiant heated flooring.  

This hotel was designed for one to experience Iceland in a new way while engaging in the traditions that make it unique.  

Philadelphia Film Center
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