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ÁRNASAFN Project: 2009
Location: Reykjavík, Iceland
Photographs: PK arkitektar
Completion Year: Unrealized
Floor Area: 6200 m²
Typology: -

Pálmar Kristmundsson and Fernando de Mendonça

2nd prize, open European competition

ÁRNASAFNProject: 2009

Pálmar Kristmundsson and Fernando de Mendonça

2nd prize, open European competition

Location: Reykjavík, Iceland
Photographs: PK arkitektar
Completion Year: Unrealized
Floor Area: 6200 m²
Typology: -

The main function of the building is to house the national treasure of the 17th century manuscripts of Arni Magnusson, as welt as to provide an educational and research facility for the city. The brief called for a certain dignity, stability and strength to be represented in the design: the building needed to be secure and lasting, like a fortress, while still maintaining a sense subtlety, stimulation, openness and brightness - simultaneously opening up to the public and enclosing the unique treasure inside.

The building is characterised by its simple and modest external skin, which is rich in nuance. colour, light and shadow Corten steel is used as a conscious link between the man-made materiality of the building and the progress of time through natural rusting. The building appears to settle into the Landscape of the city as if it has always been there; it is full of life but still providing the peace and tranquillity necessary for academic studies and the search for knowledge. A timber deck projects out from the entranceway and continues through the centre of the building into a procession of double height spaces that bring daylight deep into the building, opening it up from within. An internal pond with a circulation corridor links the main series of spaces, reflecting light from the roof lights above against the white walls and reflective glass of the interior surfaces. 

The circulation and service routes also divide the building into high security areas, including storage, without obstructing the flow of the building and with the added flexibility of being able to seal off spaces into secure isolated zones. Roof gardens on different floors at the front of the building allow daylight filtered through trees and bushes to be cast into the interior and stop the main facade from appearing solid and monolithic.

Steel profiles accentuate the breakdown of the blocky nature of the building. The thin vertical strips allow the building to play with the levels of transparency and solidity of the overall form, helping reduce the sense of a single imposing monolith. The clear definition of spaces, circulation cores, public and private spaces and the careful selection of materials give the building its strength. At the same time providing its inner calmness, while making it a truly unique experience for visitors. The building provides the ideal setup for students researching the history of the artefacts stored there.