BORHOLUHÚS

 
 

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Borholuhús Project: 1996
Location: Reykjavík, Iceland
Photographs: Rafael Pinho & Spessi
Completion Year: 1996 - to date
Floor Area: 14 m²
Typology: -

Pálmar Kristmundsson & Björn Skaptason [co-author]

 

Fjarhitun Engineers

 

BorholuhúsProject: 1996

Pálmar Kristmundsson & Björn Skaptason [co-author]

 

Fjarhitun Engineers

 

Location: Reykjavík, Iceland
Photographs: Rafael Pinho & Spessi
Completion Year: 1996 - to date
Floor Area: 14 m²
Typology: -

Those who remember Reykjavik in the 1920s and 30s recall that sometimes on calm winter days, smoke from the chimneys would produce a dark cloud that would settle over the city, and visibility was reduced drastically. Despite this oppressive atmosphere, a plan was drawn up to harness the heat they knew was trapped in the ground under the city.

In the following years, a number of wells were drilled, and today there are as many as 50 within the city limits. The deepest are two kilometers, with the capability of drawing 80°C hot water to the surface. In 1990, the Reykjavik Geothermal Heating Authority launched an oden competition for housing the hot water wells. Out of over 80 entries, the proposal for this building was selected. These structures stand as a token to the utilization of natural resources within city limits. They also have become a part of the image of the city.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

The building is a 14-square-metre steel structure by 6.5 meters constructed of two stainless steel clad curvilinear walls separated by a door at each end. The buildings were assembled at a workshop off site and moved one piece to the hot water wells, The buildings house the mechanism on top of the well, which pumps the water to a central control. From there, it distributed throughout the city a vertical element hanging from the roof to the side of the building contains the air-conditioning system for the machinery. This takes air from the top and pumps it down to the floor, circulating air, cooling the motor and creating enough pressure to prevent dust from getting inside and damaging the motor system. Next to the air-conditioning element is a pipe that allows the steam created by the boiling water to escape outside and into the air. In a subtle way, this refers to the original name of the city. Reykjavik means -smoke", and the name was given by settlers mistaking the steam for smoke.