Natural Elements Arkís Architects

ARKÍS architects,

ARKÍS architects,


Visitor Center,

Steel, Roccia vulcanica, Wood,


Arkís Architects was founded in Reykjavik in 1997 and is one of Iceland’s largest architecture firms, completing works both locally and abroad. Their sustainable architecture has firm roots in the country’s tradition and landscape.

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Natural Elements Arkís Architects ARKÍS Architects was founded in Reykjavik in 199, making a name for themselves with a quality-based approach. They also believe that the environment has the intrinsic potential to improve the quality of our lives and influence the wellbeing of future generations. It is no coincidence that the architects from ARKÍS are among the founding members of the Icelandic Green Building Council and were responsible for drafting the Goals for Sustainable Neighborhoods and Buildings for the city of Reykjavik.
These form the basis for architecture that leverages local conditions and international influences, at the same time taking care to reduce the adverse effects of anthropisation. 
The challenge posed to ARKÍS architects in their design lies in the creation of sustainable architecture firmly rooted in the Icelandic tradition and landscape, that is shaped and resonates with the majestic nature of Iceland. In other words, their buildings form part of a larger whole, rather than standing as individual works. It is clear then that the Nordic tradition of combining context and function informs the buildings designed by Arkís. 
This is true for some of their most important projects - Reykjavík University, Apotek Hotel, Snæfellsstofa Visitor Centre and Holmen Aquatics Center - as well as works that aim to boost enjoyment of Iceland’s unique panoramas, like the Fjadrargljufur viewing platform. The platform - made from cor-ten steel, with interwoven stainless steel wire railings - is positioned over the 100-metre deep and roughly 2-kilometre long Fjadrargljufur canyon. The platform provides stunning views from above through to where three rivers and creeks meet. Then there are the Langisjor Ranger Cabins near Lake Langisjor on the southwestern edge of the famous Vatnajökull National Park; these simple wooden constructions are clad in larch and surrounded by a terrace, also made of larch and sandstone gabions. The cabins provide workspaces for the park rangers, information points, restrooms and camping facilities. These small, minimalist buildings connect with the surrounding nature, blending in as if they too were natural elements, at the same time fulfilling the needs of people. 
They used this same Nordic humanistic approach to architecture in their design of Holmsheidi Prison in Reykjavik. The project was a nominee for the 2017 European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture – Mies van der Rohe Award, and the facility contains 56 holding cells plus the women’s prison facilities. The cor-ten cladding gives the facility a form, colour and material palette that allows it to blend effortlessly into the natural context. Despite its function as a prison, the comfortable, attractively designed structure contributes to healthy indoor environments for inmates, staff and visitors.
You can read descriptions of these and other works by ARKÍS architects in “Natural Elements - ARKÍS architects”. The book, edited by Tomas Lauri, also includes texts by Sigríður Magnúsdóttir, Atli Magnus Seelow and Livio Dimitriu, and is published by the Swedish firm, Arvinius + Orfeus Publishing. The perfect book for a virtual tour of Iceland, in the search for an architecture that grows from a love of Icelandic traditions and landscapes, with a contemporary twist.

Christiane Bürklein

Natural Elements - ARKÍS architects
Text: Tomas Lauri, Atli Magnus, Sigríður Magnúsdóttir, Livio Dimitriu
Editor: Tomas Lauri
Graphic Design: Stefan Andersson
Format: 220 × 240 mm, 224 pp.
Binding: Hardcover
Publication Date: April 2020 - ISBN 978-91-87543-72-2
Arvinius + Orfeus Publishing, Stockholm
Images: ARKÍS architects


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