Arne Magnusson

Reykjavic, Iceland

2008

The long slab spanning Gubrandsgata, and reaching toward the national museum is the exhibition and research wing of the facility. Inside, the dominant feature is the ceiling - a rhythm of precast concrete troughs, spanning from east to west across the double-height space. The north face of each trough is glazed to allow indirect northern light. In the winter months, concealed lighting will create the impression of continuous day. Glimpses of clear sky are available looking north through the skylights. Since the long slab is elevated, it permits vehicular and pedestrian traffic below.

The tower of learning activates the project at one end, visible from the city skyline. With its commanding views of the surrounding city and landscape, the tower is clad in a landscape of orange weathered steel on the south side. On the opposite side, the steel segments are replaced with snowy white translucent glazing to take advantage of the northern light.

The slab is interrupted occasionally with excavations which form atria. The atria provide views to the pool below and glimpses of passing pedestrians, and visually separate galleries and program areas. Guests can look beyond such atria, into steam hovering over the pool element. The museum’s small collection is located centrally, the heart of the institute. In the column-free expanse of double-height space, rooms are arranged like boxes in a tray, giving curators ultimate flexibility over collections display.

The two elements - the tower and the slab - are linked by a ground floor connection, but are separated by a terrace above. This ribbon of building is wrapped in a weathered orange steel façade, lightly punctuated by a rhythm of drop shaped indentations. Underneath sits the glass vitrine in the middle of the pool of water.