Climb and experience a vast 360 degree view of your surroundings. Get a glimpse of where it is you are going. See the immense fissure in the landscape below you. Two tectonic forces have battled here for centuries. An open wound where Europe meets North America.
Conrad Gargett’s design approach to the Grjótagjá Cave Tower is inspired by minimal impact and sustrainable thinking. The landscape here is precious and demands respect.
Connecting the building and immediate artefacts is an extensive network of trekking paths, that also take you to surrounding sites and attractions. The entrances to both male and female caves are just a step away, whilst the immense crate of Hverfjall awaits in the distance. You may battle through snow and rain to get here and so the building offers a welcome comfort from the journey. It is minimal in its embellishment yet its simplicity offers a certain luxury. Internally a warm timber box cradles you whilst you enjoy a snack with a view.
The plan of the building is conceived as a simple cross. The walking track module cuts through the building and directs visitors straight to the viewing tower beyond. The entry point delineates the private and public spaces of the programme. To the north are the private spaces; the office and reception area. To the South are the public café spaces and bathroom facilities.
A very simple and rigorous planning strategy also incorporates generous storage areas for both visitors and workers. A nook of storage that straddles the entry area allows visitors to drop of large coats and backpackas before they enter into the café space.
The design consists of two key parts: a floating Mirror Box sitting on slender steel posts and a metal tower the extends into the sky. The simplicity of the two elements side by side ensures that a minimal visual impact is created on the vast, beautiful landscape. To further enhance the experience of the landscape the main building is clad in a mirror film glass that reflects the landscape and the ever changing weather that erodes and carves Iceland.
The café that sits within the mirror box is designed as a ‘room with a view’.
Once inside take a seat at the oversized barn table, and no matter where you are positioned you will enjoy an uninterrupted view of the landscape.
Look up and you can see the sky. The large snorkel window sucks light into the space whilst also allowing you to experience the ever changing conditions of the Icelandic sky.