Visitors centre, Skirðuklaustur
SKIRÐUKLAUSTUR (IS) - In eastern Iceland, close to the Vatnajökull National Park, a new visitors' centre has just opened its doors. As with many visitors' centres, the surrounding landscape was a source of inspiration for the building, which is constructed of local materials. In addition to a turf roof and walls of local stone, Arkís Architects have used Icelandic larch as a prominent design feature of the Snæfellsstofa visitors' centre.
This comes as something of a surprise, as you don't have to spend much time in Iceland to realize that it is a country barren of vegetation and the only trees around are those in people's backyards. The original forests, mostly birch, were cut down centuries ago, causing severe erosion. In order to stop this process, new trees are now being planted by Skógrækt Ríkisins, a government company.
When Arkís approached the company about this particular project, they were told that they were 50 years too early, because that is how long it will take before entire buildings can be constructed out of wood grown in Iceland.
Many types of trees have been tested for Icelandic conditions, and those that have proven suitable are birch, larch and spruce. Those forests that can be found in the country consist mostly of larch, and they are located in the eastern part of the country. This made it logical for Arkís to use this wood in the visitors' centre.
As tree cultivation is at an early stage, Icelandic wood has to be used very consciously. At the moment, the trees are currently no higher than about two metres, which means that the local wood can only be used for elements such as wall panelling and terrace decking – just as in this project.
Friday | 1 October | 2010 | Iceland | Daniel Golling