INTERSTICE is a proposal for a new viewing platform that captures the vast beauty of the Icelandic landscape. From afar the structure looks to be taken over by an alien creature growing from the land reclaiming what is there. It symbolizes the relationship dynamic between the fissure itself and its human sightseers; regardless of how much control and appropriation we would like to exert over this wonder of nature, it will come to split apart at its own pace for years to come..
The Icelandic landscape is one of the most unique in the world – one can experience deep fjords, vast volcanic deserts, black sand beaches and snowy mountains. As the number of visitors increase each year, it is important that the country’s physical characteristics are displayed in a matter which preserves their integrity and speaks to Iceland’s cultural and geological history.
INTERSTICE is comprised by two building “halves” that guide visitors through two distinct paths, which each lead to a cave entrance and a unique lookout that extends over the fissure. An extensive footpath module weaves in and out throughout the site encouraging exploration.
Visible from far away, the structure is slowly taken over by a curious being slowly growing from the land trying to reclaim what’s theirs. The walls disintegrate as one nears the top, while the earthy being sits delicately above, letting light and air into the space.
The south structure’s cave entrance contains indoor change room and ticketing area for visitors who would like to use Kvennagja for bathing, while the northern structure keeps Karlagja open to the public at the ground level and houses a cafe and staff area above. From the foot of each structure, visitors an also follow a ramp that leads out to a cantilevered lookout, allowing them to see down into the fissure where the American and European tectonic plates meet. The increasingly tall and narrow walls of the structure enrich the experience of looking out over the rocky expanse when the visitor finally reaches the observation point.
At the centre of the intervention is a landscaped grove, hugged and protected by the two structures. The grove is home to a stretch of native greenery – early able to develop on its own in areas affected by volcanic activity such as this one. This central space provides a place for visitors to relax in nature and take in the moss and birch trees, native to Iceland but oftentimes powerless against layers of volcanic ash covering fertile soil.
Wrapping across one structure and even standing in place of one of its walls is the “creature”, a kind of parasitic building component that endeavours to take over and replace these artificial elements. This relationship is representative of the distinctive dynamic between the fissure itself and its human sightseers; regardless of how much control and appropriation we would like to exert over this wonder of nature, it will come to split apart at its own pace for years to come.
INTERSTICE relies fully on geothermal energy from the surrounding area. The buildings are self-sufficient due to the warm underground temperatures. The building uses carbon-sequencing concrete and metal with high recycled content. The structure is carefully placed so as not to disrupt the original landscape and maintain the integrity of the caves and fissure. The building sits on one side fo the fissure only, so as to move gracefully with the tectonic plates.