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Esja Architecture creates circular viewing platform in the East Fjords of Iceland

Iceland Architecture News - Aug 31, 2023 - 11:43   1986 views

Esja Architecture creates circular viewing platform in the East Fjords of Iceland

Copenhagen and Reykjavik-based architecture practice Esja Architecture has created a circular viewing platform in the East Fjords of Iceland

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. 

Esja Architecture creates circular viewing platform in the East Fjords of Iceland

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.

Esja Architecture creates circular viewing platform in the East Fjords of Iceland

Plan

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.

Esja Architecture creates circular viewing platform in the East Fjords of Iceland

Site plan

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. 

Esja Architecture creates circular viewing platform in the East Fjords of Iceland

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.

Esja Architecture creates circular viewing platform in the East Fjords of Iceland

Elevation

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.

Esja Architecture creates circular viewing platform in the East Fjords of Iceland

Concept inspired by a viking ring

Cantilevering Structure

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.

Esja Architecture creates circular viewing platform in the East Fjords of Iceland

Fjord cross section

Construction

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.

Esja Architecture creates circular viewing platform in the East Fjords of Iceland

Esja Architecture creates circular viewing platform in the East Fjords of Iceland

Esja Architecture creates circular viewing platform in the East Fjords of Iceland

Esja Architecture creates circular viewing platform in the East Fjords of Iceland

Cross section 1

Esja Architecture creates circular viewing platform in the East Fjords of Iceland

Cross section 1

Esja Architecture creates circular viewing platform in the East Fjords of Iceland

Cross section 2

Esja Architecture creates circular viewing platform in the East Fjords of Iceland

Cross section 2

Esja Architecture creates circular viewing platform in the East Fjords of Iceland

Esja Architecture creates circular viewing platform in the East Fjords of Iceland

Esja Architecture creates circular viewing platform in the East Fjords of Iceland

Esja Architecture creates circular viewing platform in the East Fjords of Iceland

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.

Project facts

Official Project Name: Ring of Bjólfur

Location: Seydisfjordur, Iceland

Client: Múlaþing Municipality

Construction: 2023-2024

Budget: ISK 190 million

Design team

Architects: Arkibygg Arkitektar & Esja Architecture

Landscape Architects: ANNA Landslagsarkitekt & Kjartan Mogensen

Engineers: exa 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. 

> via Esja Architecture

concept East Fjords Esja Architecture observing platform viewing platform