Architects: PKdM Arkitektar
Project: BHM rural cottage
Project Team: Pálmar Kristmundsson, Fernando de Mendonça, Andrew Burgess, Erna Vestmann, Liidia Grinko & Sunna Dóra Sigurjónsdóttir
Location: Brekkuskógur, Iceland
Floor Area: 87-95 m²
Photographs: Rafael Pinho & Bjarni Kristinsson
Description by architect: In 2012, PK Arkitektar was invited to take part in a competition for vacation rental cottages for the Association of Academics in Iceland. The twenty rural cabins were to be located in Brekkuskogur, in southwest Iceland near Þingvellir National Park The area features picturesque surroundings with uninterrupted views from each cottage to the nearby lake Laugarvatn. The main focus of the design was to create a semi-rural architecture that blends in with the landscape and the surrounding mountains.
Leftover earth from the excavation was used to form a wind-protecting bunker for the outdoor terraces and help fuse the roofscapes of the cabins with the surrounding sloping landscape Vegetation from the excavated footprint of each building was preserved throughout the building process and reinstalled on the roofs. The architectural concept was based on a simple and efficient plan, which limits circulation space and minimizes complex detailing. By doing so, material quality could be increased, thus minimizing costly need for maintenance.
A wooden construction on a concrete slab, the rural cottage is clad with burnt hardwood panelling on the outside, utilizing a method well-known in Japan, among other countries, to enhance the durability of the wood. The roof is a grass layer on a wooden frame. This is a traditional method used in the old vernacular turf houses in Iceland. The interior design is composed of a floor finish of smooth-polished concrete, with walls and ceilings cladded in wood panels with the same intervals as on the exterior cladding. Living and dining spaces are located in the heart of the houses, where the kitchen opens into the main space.
The bathrooms have direct access to the terrace, where a geothermal hot tub is located. The houses utilize geothermal hydro energy from a specially drilled source inside the site boundary. The overall design is in accordance with recognized ecological standards, with the aim of promoting minimal environmental impact design and construction methods and creating homes with close to zero carbon footprints.