International Competition
Shortlisted Entry

in collab. with

> Dr Lisa Moffitt
> Laura Haylock


geo thermo haptic

Set within the northwestern section of the Dimmuborgir lava fields in northern Iceland, the project experientially registers the curious natural phenomena of the surrounding fissure-swarm landscape. At the scale of an earthworks, the project consists of two new constructed grounds. One ground is submerged within an excavation below; the other hovers tenuously above while connecting seamlessly to the existing topography. The project is understood as an experiential choreography, alternating between immersion within and hovering over the geological and thermal conditions upon which both the immediate site and the larger Icelandic volcanic landscape rests.

The existing basalt ground is excavated to create an occupiable depression below. The void is bound on all sides by black basalt; lined along the northern edge by gabion cages filled with the excavated rock. Remaining surfaces retain the marks of excavation. Along the south edge, staff offices, a cafe and kitchen, and WCs occupy small, wood-framed volumes set within excavated voids. These spaces are quiet, warm and still. Top-lit and suppressed, they operate in counterpoint to the dark, steaming space beyond. Exposed sheep’s wool lines and insulates their interiors whilst embedded heating radiates through a slab floor. Above, steel grating replaces former ground, hovering over the steam and void below, creating a new relationship to views of the surrounding volcanic landscape. 

Dimmuborgir’s strange geological formations are the result of intense interaction between extreme heat, water, and pressure. On the lower level, a grid of nozzles, embedded in a blanket of scree, emits a field of steam. Whilst much of the project is hidden from view within the larger landscape, this field of steam rises to mark the site from the warrens of lava fields beyond.

Within the lower level, views are occluded. Perception turns inward to the magnified, haptic phenomena of heat, darkness, and pressure. A series of fractures perpendicular to the east/west excavation cut to the sloping south site, framing strategic views of Lùdent Crater, Bláfjall across þrengslaborgir, and Sellandafjal.