Esja Architecture Creates Circular Viewing Platform In The East Fjords Of Iceland
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Called Ring of Bjólfur, a ring-shaped viewing platform is situated on the slopes of Mount Bjólfur, in East Iceland, 650m above sea level.
The platform is set to overlook Seydisfjordur, a narrow fjord with steep mountains known for its vibrant art scene, food culture, and annual art and music festival, as well as for having the only ferry connection from Iceland to mainland Europe.
Birds Eye with Seydisfjordur and the Atlantic Ocean in the background. Render artists © Alex Cetea & Andrei Ducu Predescu
The project was selected as the winning proposal in a prequalified competition issued by the municipality in 2021. Construction of the Ring will begin this fall and Esja Architecture expects the project to be completed in fall 2024.
Envisioned as a simple concrete structure, the project will sit on top of the rugged landscape and hover over the edge to provide spectacular views over the fjord and to the Atlantic Ocean.
Ring of Bjólfur will provide 360° experience
The ring has a diameter of 32 meters, with a walkway and bench spanning its entire 100 meters circumference.
"The 360° experience will invite visitors to explore views of the surrounding mountains, the town, the valley, and mountain peak above," said Esja Architecture.
"The slightly sloping ring structure will also be wheelchair accessible," the team explained.
Silver colour palette
The ring will be built from concrete, with an inner railing of local larch and an outer railing of slim stainless-steel posts.
The three materials will display a range of silver-grey colour tones, with the silver patina of the larch, the glittering reflection of the steel, and the exposed concrete tones changing with the weather.
Masterplan - access
The studio adopted a robustness in the material selection, as well as minimal maintenance due to the harsh weather conditions and remote location.
According to the team, the sharp silver colour palette will create a contrast nicely with the brown tones of the rocky landscape that it will sit on.
A Viking ring
Mount Bjólfur is named after the Viking Bjólfur, who first settled in Seydisfjordur and is believed to have been buried high up on the mountain.
It is Viking tradition to be buried with their most precious belongings, including jewelry and weapons. Accordingly, the Ring of Bjólfur symbolizes a precious silver ring belonging to Bjólfur, the forefather of the people of the fjord.
Concept inspired by a viking ring
The structure sits on top of the landscape in two places, and cantilevers over the edge of the mountain. The load-bearing quality of the closed circle is very efficient, therefore requiring only four anchor points.
Fjord cross section
The elevation of the construction site is presents a challenge, with unpredictable weather conditions and steep road passes. Therefore, every detail of the construction process has been planned in advance.
The project is being carried out as a cross-disciplinary collaboration between architects, landscape architects, and structural engineers, from concept through to construction.
Cross section 1
Cross section 1
Cross section 2
Cross section 2
Copenhagen and Reykjavik, ESJA was founded by architect Audur Hreidarsdottir. With a passion for the great outdoors and urban life alike, ESJA designs spaces in remote locations, as well as in the urban realm.
Official Project Name: Ring of Bjólfur
Location: Seydisfjordur, Iceland
Client: Múlaþing Municipality
Budget: ISK 190 million
Architects: Esja Architecture & Arkibygg Arkitektar
Landscape Architects: ANNA Landslagsarkitekt & Kjartan Mogensen
Engineers: AXA Nordic
Top image: Ring of Bjólfur hovers over the mountain edge. Render artists © Alex Cetea & Andrei Ducu Predescu.
All visuals courtesy of Esja Architecture unless otherwise stated.
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