The competition for the hotel in the central area of Reykjavik was organized by the city council in cooperation with land owners and investors. The organizers were looking for planning ideas, the solution that would respect and enhance the historical context and create a framework for the wide range of urban activities. The design of 4 500 square meters hotel was supposed to improve the quality of neighboring public spaces – three most important squares in Reykjavik capital. At first glance – a contradictory task, but not impossible.
The public space in Reykiavik center has a linear character. The dominating direction In the present urban structure, is the east-west axis, along the Main Shopping Street. The dense urban tissue evolves around it followed with the biggest flow of people ending in the Austurvöllur .
The city development plans and results of held competitions indicate that this axe will be further extended ,to the Örfirisey and the Old Harbor.
The competition area lays one extreme of the axis embracing the most important public squares.
The strategy on the city level is to transform present linear scheme into the network.
The first step is to potentate the perpendicular directions. They are determined by important public functions, increased accessibility by the public transport and accessibility to the intensive parking (parking houses and cellars). The street profile is changed from the car- to pedestrian-dominated. The increased attractiveness of the streets will result in the filling of the urban voids.
In the end the parallel streets are revitalized. The quarter – like structure emerges. Such a scheme increases the density and the liveliness in the center, makes it more complex and varied and also connects It better with the surrounding districts.
The hotel lies on the most important perpendicular axis, connecting science and nature in the south with culture on it’s north end. Its form helps to create the sequence of connected squares that open up to the south direction.
The hotel orders the space and integrates three neighboring squares. In the same time the individual character of the squares is maintained. The new public space around historic houses improves people flow and underlines the importance of historical monuments.
We tried to notice, and then strengthen the individual character of each of the three squares.
Inglaforstorg is a public spectacles venue . Concerts and gatherings are taking place there on special occasions. On the ordinary day it’s a spot for skaters and a meeting place for young people. At present the square lies in a “hole” surrounded by the walls, with occasional steps and ramps. To open the square onto surrounding streets and increase its accessibility and surface, we decided to remove the stone walls. They were replaced by the elements of the scene-and-audience. Ramps for the skaters, big elevated scene, and on the opposite side of the square: steps that can turn into a grandstand. The illumination of the square can adapt to different “spactacles” from the ordinary lamps to the scene reflectors. The semi-transparent hotel façade works as a living lamp. Every room with the light on illuminates the square as well.
Austurvöllur is the main city square, with the Icelandic parliament building facing it. It´s surface is covered with grass, which encourages many people to chat and picnic. The ground floor of the surrounding building hosts reastaurants and bars that set their tables outside, on the pavement. The hotel adapts tothis landscape with the restaurant and bar facing the square and having entrance from this side.
On the corner of Aðalstræti and Kirkjustræti lays the calmest and most intimate square. That’s why proposed building structure maintains its level of isolation. In the same time the historical meaning of the space is reinforced. It used to be a vegetable garden established by Icelandic doctor – a pioneer of horticulture there. The square is covered with the plant beds, cut by the net of walking paths. The vegetation alludes to the past character of the garden. Trees are surrounded by herbs and other kitchen plants, promoting the urban gardening culture in Reykjavik. The irregular network of paths and greenery reinforces intimate atmosphere of this space.
Vallarstræti passage created around historical houses is a new public space and a connection between three squares. It underlines the importance of the historical buildings, eksponujac je jako pomniki na placu. giving them better accessibility and visibility and creating the calm sitting spaces between them, with perspectives towards all three squares.
Building is connection between The squares. Its elevations are visible from great distance from all directions. We wanted make it simple and elegant, we are thinking about it as background for daily life of Reykjavík. Walls are made with glass tubes filled with semitransparent insulation material. It gives building delicate white color. In addition we can see shadows of people, furniture, and lights lighten inside which brings some interesting, undefined life to surrounding spaces. At night, building acts as light source, making the squares cozy and attractive for night life. Building is connecting spaces which it divides, it is live background in theater of life.