In Winter 2012 PK Arkitektar was invited to take part in a competition for vacation rental cottages for the Association of Academics in Iceland. The 20 cabins were to be located in Brekkuskógur, in the South West of Iceland. The area features picturesque surroundings with uninterrupted views from each cottage to the nearby lake, Laugarvatn.
The main focus of the design is to create a semirural architecture that blends in with the landscape and the surrounding mountains. Leftover earth from the excavation is 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 is preserved throughout the building process and reinstalled on the roofs, when completed.
The architectural concept is based on a simple and efficient plan solution, which limits circulation space and minimizes complex detailing. By doing so, material quality can be increased thus minimizing costly need for maintenance.
The building is a wooden construction resting on a concrete base. The exterior is clad with burnt hardwood paneling, utilizing a method well known in Japan, among other countries, to enhance the durability of the wood. The roof is a grass layer fused together with the surrounding slope, a traditional method used in the old vernacular turf houses in Iceland.
The interior 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 bathroom has direct access to the terrace leading to the geothermal hot tub.
The houses utilize geothermal hydro energy from specially drilled sources inside the site boundary. The overall design is in accordance with recognized ecological standards with the aim to promote minimal environmental impact, creating cabins with close to zero carbon footprints.