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Iceland Trekking Cabin

Competition 2016   Iceland


Vörður the Icelandic word for cairns or stacked stone landmarks, which for centuries have been used to denote pathways through the island’s majestic landscape. An environment which is marred by volcanic activity, cloaked with glacial ice and rolling in a variety of complex terrain. Iceland is the crest of the Mid Atlantic Ridge, one of the world’s longest mountain ranges, dividing the island in two between the Eurasian and North American Continental plates.
The Vörður shelters continue the cairn precedent of navigation while at the same time celebrating the unique geological divide. Towers assembled out of a series of stacked prefabricated cross laminated timber (CLT) plates are held together with steel tie rods anchored to precast concrete pile foundations. Separate material palettes, which are sourced and fabricated from thier respective continental locals, come to define which continent the cabins reside on, while an East/West orientation focuses views towards the rift valley. A mirrored skew in the floor plan provides the general orientation of the ridge passing through the region.
An array of solar photovoltaic panels grace the broad southern facade of each shelter providing them with abundant electricity. A backup propane generator located at a mechanical well on the roof provide supplemental electricity during the winter months of operation. Well water or a reservoir of spring/ snow melt provide the primary source of drinking water, while the roof collects stormwater for supplemental storage. To save on electricity hot water is only provided at the showers, laundry and kitchen sink through remote electric tankless water heaters. An open stairwell with a skylight at the top provides ample natural light reducing the need for artificial lighting. In addition the vertical core provides natural ventilation through the solar chimney/ stack effect. 750mm thick mass timber walls provide abundant thermal insulation while 1” thick felt pads attached to the interiors help mitigate acoustic issues. Heat is generated from either electric resistant space heaters or geothermal radiators pending on availability at the site. Electric incinerator toilets turn solid waste to ash while liquid waste is treated before infiltrating back into the ground through a drain field. 
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