Archive for 2010
- April 2011|
- March 2011|
- February 2011|
- January 2011|
- December 2010|
- November 2010|
- October 2010|
- September 2009|
- August 2009|
- July 2009|
- June 2009|
- May 2009|
- April 2009|
- March 2009|
- February 2009|
December 5th, 2010 | Richard Almond
The sailing and maritime acadamy is a linear arrangement of activity which projects into the harbour and so reconnects Reykjavik to the sea. Materialy is inspired by Reykjavik’s corrugated veil.
December 4th, 2010 | Richard Almond
1. Materiality: Corrugation & Jointing
Reykjavik is a city of humble pitched huts. There is a definite sense that the city is an outpost, a settlement thrown together out of necessity. The interest for me is in the materiality, the jointing and the colour. Primarily corrugated metal, the city’s thin skin sits on brickwork footings. Vibrant paint brings a wash of colour to dark, gloomy winters. Icelander’s inherent respect for nature sees buildings touch the earth gently, meekly in an epic landscape. Buildings aim only to enhance this landscape, as distracting from it is simply impossible.
2. Isolation & Silhouette
Agonisingly beautiful isolation is contained in charming boxes which sit proudly, yet respectfully amongst volcanic hills. The single insertion of a simple, spired church amidst jagged mountains and barren plateaus conjures up a sense of the mystical, and a beautiful silhouette. These silhouettes are a hugely inspirational and particularly important to consider on a prominent site so exposed within the harbour.
3. Protection from The Elements
Bracing winter gales tear at the fabric of Reykjavik, and the exposed harbour can become particularly uncomfortable. Huts huddle together for warmth and protection from the elements, a trait I feel should be expressed architecturally in my proposals.
Reykjavik is a seasonal city, Iceland a seasonal nation and sailing, to an extent, a seasonal sport. The dark days of winter in Iceland sees museums and attractions wind down to a skeleton operation, the cold outdoors can be punishing, pushing even humans to ponder hibernation in their homes. In contrast, the long days of summer see a surge of activity, festivals and events, as if striving to make up for the lost time of the winter. I do not intend to profess that sailing activities suddenly become rife in deep winter, rather I wish to embrace the seasonality of Reykjavik and reflect it in my building. By this I do not mean to propose that activity within the building grinds to a halt in the months unsuitable for sailing, I mean that the building adapts to reflect the differing program at different times of the year.
Summer sees the academy open, busy and bustling, expanding onto the water with sailing tuition. Ship’s chandlers and repair workshops are a hive of activity, throngs of schoolchildren don wetsuits and dinghys. Winter sees the building shut down, protecting itself from the elements, sheltering a still busy internal core where dry tuition, research and study take place take over and prevail.
5. Connecting Activities
The dry educational spaces are within a concrete trough cast into the pier. Advantage is taken of Iceland’s crystal-clear coastal waters via a visual connection to the bobbing hulls of the sailing boats above. Specimen tanks are incorporated into sections of reinforced glass wall with the ocean as their backdrop.
December 4th, 2010 | Richard Almond
The building’s primary role is in the maritime education of the people of Reykjavik and Iceland. The sailing academy is a major component of this programme, and although it is intended that the academy provides tuition up to major competition standard, the associated leisure facilities will be fully accessible to the public and equally important. Dinghy hire will be available to all. These activities and spaces will be primarily summer-based. A substantial club house and restaurant/bar will be provided for the sailing club, with the intention that it frequently opens itself to the local community in a bid to increase public interest in the sport of sailing.
The second major component is the dry educational facility, which will include a lecture hall, classrooms and labs, as well as marine specimen tanks. These programmes constitute the primary winter use of the building, and it is intended that they provide tuition in such subjects as marine biology, navigation, and marine geology. This component of the building will be fully accessible to the public, with resident geologists/biologists, etc, offering lectures and hands-on lessons in various areas of marine study.
Supporting the primary functions are a boat repair facility, a ship’s chandler, changing facilities and a boat storage house. All of these are essential for the efficient operation of a major sailing academy. Further more, accommodation is supplied for visiting sailors, researchers and students.
All spaces directly associated with sailing and wet tuition will be based at ground, or water level, with dry tuition, research and educational facilities below.
December 4th, 2010 | Richard Almond
Iceland is a maritime nation. Founded by Vikings in the 9thCentury, it has an explicit affiliation with the sea. Reykjavik grew out of the sea. It had to, the sea was its lifeblood, its food supply and its connection to the old world. Reykjavik’s main streets ran efficiently into the water, terminating in long piers. The sea was Reykjavik’s heart, the piers pumped life into the city like arteries. Below shows the how Reykjavik developed between 1800 and 1900.
Over the years this connection has gradually diminished. The industrialisation of fishing and the advent of air travel has, amongst others, lead to Reykjavik’s lessened dependencyon the sea, and therefore a lessened use of its harbour. Reykjavik’s planning department is well aware of the potential problems associated with the slow death of the harbour, and is striving to revive the area through Graeme Massie’s masterplan. My concern, however, is that the redevelopment through key cultural institutions such as the new Harpa concert hall is redevelopment of solely the fringe of the harbour, the threshold between the city and the sea. My aspiration is to propose a redevelopment of the water itself, and so reconnect Reykjavik to the sea, once again, through its harbour.
My intention is for the harbour itself to benefit from a resurgence in bustling activity, yet primarily through leisure based activity such as sailing, in keeping with the masterplan aim.
November 25th, 2010 | Richard Almond
The harbour basin offers a variety of possible sites for the sailing academy. I wish there to be a tangible connection to the water, but also an obvious integration with the city fabric. The academy must be perceived to be within the public realm and must offer oppurtunity for social interaction with the city.
I am aware that sailing is commonly viewed as an elitist sport and therefore part of the challenge here is to prevent the building acting as a barriers between itself and Reykjavik’s residents. Organisations such as the United Kingdom Sailing Association offer a charitable function, aiming to change the lives of deprived young people through sailing, and this is something I am keen to apply to Reykjavik.
The northern edge of the harbour is currently mostly industrial in use, and is where the fishing trawlers tend to dock. Site ‘a’ offers a good potential location for a sailing academy due to its proximity to the harbour wall and the open sea, but its exposure to the elements could prove problematic.
Site ‘b’ is currently the pier which the coast guard ship is moored to, and it contains only one small hut as a coast guard office. Its use has not been altered in the masterplan yet its location as a major pier within the harbour and its proximity to the new Harpa Concert Hall means it is a very prominent site. There is opportunity here to situate moorings for the boats around the perimeter of the academy itself, and it is in close proximity to both proposed new moorings to the south edge and the harbour wall to the east, yet still benefits from the shelter of the harbour. This site offers a prominent connection into the city to the south.
Site ‘c’ is similar to ‘b’ in many ways yet is possibly too large in terms of its footprint. Its location could potentially see sailing activity interfere with fishing and other industrial activity.
Site ‘d’ benefits from a connection to the new maritime museum, offers a smaller pier and is in close proximity to moorings which are to remain in the masterplan. This site would involve working within one of the proposed new city block which of course offers excellent opportunity to integrate the building within the city fabric, yet its eastern corner location is probably the most cluttered area of the harbour, and one in which industrial/fishing activity will remain. This poses potential problems of beginner sailors bouncing off piers and ending up entwined with the hull of a fishing trawler.
Through carrying out a detailed feasibility study I am confident that site ‘b’ is the most sensible in which to locate this sailing academy.
November 25th, 2010 | Richard Almond
Reykjavik recently held a competition for the masterplanning of its harbour area, which was won by my project tutor Graeme Massie. Below is satelite imagery of the harbour with Graeme Massie’s masterplan overlaid. The masterplan brings geometric order to the somewhat ramshakle southern harbour edge, extending a residential penninsular into the sea to the north west and incorporating the new Harpa Concert Centre by Henning Larsen Architects .
Most of the current piers will be maintained, with further piers added to support both industrial and leisure use. There is a key move in the masterplan to promote the increased use of the harbour to accommodate leisure facilities, and this is something I feel strongly about since visiting Reykjavik. The masterplan provides many new mooring facilities for smaller vessels in the sheltered harbour, although currently there is only one small sailing club which has recently moved to the eastern edge….
More info on the masterplan and images here.
Harpa Concert Hall by Henning Larsen Architects
November 23rd, 2010 | Richard Almond
I’m considering whether a sailing academy is a suitable program for a thesis project in Reykjavik. One of my primary ambitions for this project is to re-establish this connection between the city and the sea through its harbour, which I aim to reactivate as a bustling port. There are a plethora of possible insertions around the harbour front which could be said to aid its regeneration, yet I feel that regenerating solely the threshold with key cultural institutions or land-based industry is superfitial and somehow dishonest. I propose to rethink the use of the water itself, and a sailing acadamy could offer this possibility.
November 22nd, 2010 | Richard Almond
I spent the majority of my time in Reykjavik pondering various potential city centre sites for my project, steering clear of the harbour to avoid the obvious. Developing a thesis idea was a great struggle, finding social problems in a city with one of the world’s highest standards of living is near impossible, yet I am insistent on developing a brief with ambitions spanning further than the immediate site boundaries I impose upon it.
As the days passed however, the draw to the water became more and more apparent. The capital city of this nation, founded by sea-faring pioneers, has a harbour which is dieing. A once bustling port, much of the fishing industry has relocated along the coast to Keflavik. That which has remained is now dominated by a few large-scale trawlers which visit the harbour for only brief periods to unload huge catches.
The decline in use of the harbour is a problem Reykjavik council is well aware of, below are a series of excerpts from the brief for the masterplanning of the Old Harbour, a competition won by Graeme Massie:
“The main goal of the competition is to stimulate creative and diverse ideas about the future utilization and planning of the Old Harbour. With the exception of a General Plan, comprehensive planning has never been done for this area even though it is so important in the overall scheme of Reykjavík. Here is a unique opportunity to create an area in Reykjavik City Centre, which radiates life related to the harbour, harbour operations and its history but is also an important part of City Centre and the diverse social life there, with cultural institutions, stores, services and residential areas.”
“The intention of this competition is to ensure not only that vibrancy will continue in and near the harbour, but that a future plan will be created for its strengthening in the future. This vibrancy shall also be connected with the operation of fishing vessels and harbour operations, as well as other operations, such as tourism. The buyer’s hope is that awarded prizes shall be utilized in continuing work to prepare a comprehensive plan for the area. This pertains to both the general and local plan of the area.”
“In the last several years the share of cruise liners and tourist-related vessel operations has grown continually and become more prominent. On the basis of this development and changed land use around the harbour, it is necessary to address changed attitudes and circumstances. From the beginning, the Old Harbour has been an important link in the life of the city, being closely linked with Reykjavik City Centre and the social life there. The changes occurring in Kvosin and the harbour have in recent years perhaps not been perfectly coordinated, and it is therefore important to re-examine how the harbour’s operations can be organized so that they support the development and build-up of City Centre at the same time as the opening of its own growth.”
“It can be anticipated that lighter harbour operations will be strengthened in the Old Harbour in the near future. In this regard, facilities for small fishing boats and small boats can be mentioned, as well as a fish market connected with the operation of small boats. Operations related to the tourist industry and leisure, such as the operation of whale watching and boats for anglers can also be pointed out. Also, the number of sport fishing boats and small sailboats has greatly increased, as well as restaurants on the harbour.”
“It is expected that the sailing club Brokey will set up its facilities at Ingólfsgardur. It is one of Associated Icelandic Ports’ main goals to imbue the Old Harbour with the life that the right mixture of diverse operations and services, a residential area and open areas can offer.”
For me a thesis project definitely exists in developing a reconnection between Reykjavik and the sea through its harbour, and the mention of a sailing club is particularly interesting. There is certainly a lack of sailing activity in an area which, to the untrained eye, seems to be perfect.
November 18th, 2010 | Richard Almond
Visiting Reykjavik was a truly inspiring experience. The city is a desolate, ramshackle conglomeration of huts in a sub-arctic wilderness, yet it sprawls vibrantly and proudly. Geographical and often intentionally cultural isolation from much of the world has allowed for the blossoming of an entirely unique settlement. Although fiercely independent, Reykjavik is an impressively liberal, global city with ambitions often simply too grand for its modest population of 200,000.
The cutting November winds see people wrapped in knitted jumpers trotting the short distances between coffee shops, and there is very much a sense that this place is an outpost, some kind of mining town established through necessity before things got a little out of hand. Small corrugated steel pitched huts huddle together for warmth in a seemingly random manner, each painted a colour loud enough to temporarily distract one from their frozen toes.
There is, refreshingly, a distinctive lack of ‘statement’ buildings in Reykjavik, most are humbly functional with a coat of merriness, yet the city’s visionaries seem intent on pulling the place into the 21st century by summoning an invasion of alien spaceships to the harbour front. The immense Harpa Concert Hall by Henning Larsen Architects is nearing completion, but at 23,000 m2 seems dramatically out-of-scale with the rest of the city.
The Icelander’s inherent fixation with nature and their landscape is a potential explanation for the form which Reykjavik has taken. The landscape is to be admired, not the city fabric, which simply sits upon it respectfully, even temporarily. We spent a breathtaking day visiting the the ancient Viking parliament site of the Alþingi, the dramatic Gullfoss waterfalls and the Geysir fields. Sights such as these really have to be experienced before attempting to design a building in Iceland. So overwhelmingly powerful, these phenomena have shaped the adoration of nature which is so deeply ingrained in the Icelandic psyche. The landscape, no matter where one is in Iceland, can not be ignored.
November 18th, 2010 | Richard Almond