Located at the base of the Hverfjall volcanic crater, the coffee shop building appears as an openwork cuboid tower, which arises from two gentle turf slopes descending to the ground and gradually merging with the surrounding rocks and grassy spots. Inspired by the mesmerizing geological wonder and the cinematic black monolith, the building conveys raw, solid character and draws in by its exterior austerity and interior warmth.

When visitors approach the building from the road, they get intrigued by the monolithic structure, which shows no signs, doors or windows and almost blends in with the volcanic landscape. They see light coming from the lantern-like openwork of the tower: natural daylight and warm glow during the dark hours. Only when they park or get to the bottom of the hiking trail, the building unfurls. The main entrance is located on the other side, at the rise of a long-span arch.

The building, comprised of a tower and two wings, is constructed using reinforced concrete walls and an arch, which are rigidly connected by reinforced concrete beams. The walls of the tower form a more lightweight structure: glass surfaces are attached to metal poles, which are interconnected by metal cables. Energy-efficient glass systems, thick wall insulation and green roofs minimize heat loss while natural daylighting and energy-saving lights reduce energy use. The turf slopes feature systems for greywater collection.

The façades are clad in charred timber, a nod to the volcanic activity, which helps protect the exterior from the elements and increase its durability. The perforated tower façade, with an inner envelope of energy-efficient glazing, draws inspiration from the patterns found in traditional Icelandic costumes. The curved glass façade provides sweeping views of the valley and ample access to daylight.

Almost all rooms are located on the first floor: a 200-seat coffee shop, a visitor center, an exhibition area, a shop, an office, a kitchen, bathrooms, utility rooms and storage space. The height of the building allows for an interior balcony above the kitchen. An integral part of the interior is the staircase which leads through the exhibition space in the tower all the way up to the rooftop viewing platform. The flow in the building, both inside and outside, is continuous, effortless and full of visual surprises.

In the warmer months the turf slopes boast the color green against the monochrome volcanic landscape. Their south-facing cube-like seats, along with the viewing platform on the top of the tower, allow visitors to take in more elevated views and engage with the land. The welcoming spaces throughout the building become a year-round meeting spot, a destination in its own right and a new addition to the Icelandic coffee culture.

Team: Evgenia Ermoshko, Valentin Kogan, BEHOLD LLC
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