dynamic thresholds

competition, architecture
Þingvellir National Park, Iceland
february 2018
2 weeks

The Friðarhús design celebrates the dynamism of the Icelandic landscape as the design becomes a lens to capture the austerity and history of the surroundings. Also, it offers a sanctuary of respite and introspection; reflecting the qualities of the Altar of Peace. Utilizing George Nakashima’s design for the Altar of Peace as a central element in the sanctuary space, the canopy acts as a filter for modulating light through the spaces.

Within the Þingvellir National Park, the proposed site elevates the sanctuary as a waypoint between the various landmarks. Circulation through the architecture is enhanced by the ease of access by various transportation and hiking paths. The sensitivity of location reflects George Nakashima’s views by respecting the various forces of nature.

Circulation is drawn through the sanctuary from the landmarks and also leads guests to the dramatic crevasses to the east exemplifying the natural dynamism of flora and water’s power to shape the landscape. The waterfall, Drekkingarhylur, may be heard from the sanctuary drawing the acoustic materiality through the building while the various views and paths from the sanctuary captures the water’s transformative signature on the landscape at the head of the wetlands.

“Peace should be known as a genuine expression of nature and an act of beauty.”
- George Nakashima

Reflecting the spatial qualities of Nakashima’s design, the sublime modulation of light through the sanctuary and auxiliary spaces captures the rituals of introspective reflection and meditation. Bands of filtering light in the morning, or the brevity of deep winter solar rays, are equally accepted into the space with celebration for those dwelling inside. Aetherial lighting combines with a gently sloping ceiling, grounding an intimate, spatial experience transcending time and embracing the multitude of voices. It invites discovery of inner peace and openness to converse, meditate and share a multiplicity of perspectives.

Joel McCullough Copyright 2020