40 620 Hotel and facilities, Bardardalur, Iceland


Passed bachelor.

Course content

At its best, the hotel room represents the essence of the human dwelling: It must satisfy basic requirements regarding practical needs and comfort. In addition it should provide to the user a feeling of temporary ownership and well being for the duration of the stay. Which architectural tools are at our disposal to make the hotel and its facilities a good temporary home?

The site and area chosen for the studio is a rural situation on Iceland. Bardardalur is located in the central northern part of Iceland and runs from the fjord Skálfandi, east of Akureyri, right into the central highland lava plateau Sprengisandur. The studio project area is around Svartá, a tributary to Skjálfandafljot in Bardardalur. This is an area with close proximity to some of the main routes trafficed by tourists. The program will primarily cater to these groups, but also to the many others who have an interest in the natural and cultural attractions to be found in the area.

The main goal of the studio is to develop architectural strategies and solutions for temporary accomodation for travellers and tourists. An important part of this will be to facilitate good opportunities for experiencing local nature and culture. Iceland has an abundance of spectacular nature, but so far very little has been done to prepare these attractions through planning and design of the interventions that modern mass tourism require. In a rural community environment relying mainly on sheep farming for its livelyhood it is demanding to find the right balance between new interventions and the existing situation, while at the same time satisfying basic needs for comfort and organization. The predominant feature of the natural landscape is the stark contrast between the almost desertlike volcanic terrain and the exuberant fertility surrounding the waterways. In addition to the regular tourist, the area can be expected to attract ornithologists, geologists, glaciologists, biologists, recreational fishers, historians, hikers, offroad bikers, horseback riders, etc.

Iceland has a rich building tradition and a closer study of this will be part of the preliminary phase. At the time of settlement the climate was considerably warmer and Iceland has had significant access to timber. With cooling, these forests have disappeared and the timber in the remaining vernacular architecture is mostly driftwood, mainly larch from Siberia. Today, global warming again opens for planting forest and Iceland is in need of a strategy to direct the development of this potential. The studio aims to reintroduce Norwegian timber technology by showing examples of a modern timber architecture with a potential for further development as the resource basis slowly changes.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge about, and awareness of essential aspects to the human dwelling. Knowledge about particular needs and conditions pertaining to the development and facilitation of tourism. Overview over climatic conditions which influence building design and performance over time. Updated knowledge about timber materials, construction principles, and production process. Awareness of the possibilities and challenges of the timber load bearing structure and climatic shell. Knowledge about relevant systems for natural ventilation, exploitation of solar and geothermal energy, sustainable systems for drinking water and waste water.

Ability to develop architectural strategies based on program, site, and technology. To develop architectural designs with high quality, aimed at rational production, climatic adaptation, efficient energy systems, and durability. Ability to document architectural strategies, solutions, and design using drawings, models, and text.

General qualifications:
Independent development of a detailed architectural solution for a building project. Awareness of the interplay between structure and nature.

Working and learning activities

The studio will be carried through with a main emphasis on architectural projects to be completed individually or in groups. Project material is expected to be detailed using digital tools, as well as small and large scale models. Preliminary sketching and development of ideas is to be done using analogue tools only.

The studio is based on experience from the research project WOOD/BE/BETTER and will constitute a continuation of the institute’s studies of timber as building material. An interdiciplinary team of architects, engineers, and timber technologists will contribute lectures and supervision.

The studio has 3 main phases with corresponding reviews:
- Preliminary studies, full scale timber workshop in the construction hall.
- Study trip to Iceland, development of project proposal.
- Detailed architectural project.

The students are required to continually document the work to produce material for a studio publication.

Professor in charge

Børre Skodvin / Sissil Gromholt


Assessment Date Duration Grade scale Oral examination
Prosjektoppgave Individual Pass / Fail

A general attendance of minimum 90% is required.
- Attendance at lectures is required.
- Participation in individual or group supervision is required, adapted to individual needs.
- Participation in workshops and reviews is required to pass.
- Development, presentation, and review of a completed project design is required to pass.

Students are evaluated to pass or fail, according to Regulations for Master’s Degree Programmes at AHO. International grading is provided for exchange students who require this.