Architects: Arkitema Architects
Location: Akureyri, Iceland
Design Team: Arkitema and Arkthing
Client: Akureyri Municipality and the Icekandic Ministry of Education, Science and Culture
Area: 7,400 sqm
Photographs: Courtesy of Akitema
The arts centre will form a social linchpin in Akureyri, which has a population of 17,000. The building, which is located on the banks of the fjord, forms a natural part of the town’s central squares and pedestrian thoroughfares. Its significance as a social linchpin is reflected partly in the building’s circular form, and partly in the public pedestrian street which cuts through the building.
The arts centre is anchored in Icelandic nature: externally, the building is clad with rods and bars of a special variety of Icelandic granite called Studlaberg. The robust facade presents an organic rhythm, with high narrow windows positioned according to the daylight needs of the various functions. The building’s interior also recalls nature; here, the interior pedestrian street is reminiscent of a ravine between rock walls. Openings in the rock walls provide access to the cultural functions: a concert hall with room for 600 spectators, a multi-purpose hall, and a sculpture courtyard.
There is also public access to “the ravine” outside the opening hours of the arts centre, when people can visit the café which lies in the centre of the ravine and enjoy the magnificent view across the fjord. The location of the arts centre alongside the fjord means that it will be the first building seen by many of the cruise ship tourists visiting the town. It is intended that functions associated with the reception of cruise ship tourists will also be integrated into the arts centre. The arts centre is one of three new projects for arts centres to be placed at strategic locations in Iceland: a project initiated by the Icelandic Ministry of Education, Science and Culture.