Iceland House

The house is proposed for a couple engaged in a long distance relationship who share a house just north of Reykjavik near Litlibotn. If architecture can be understood as a reflection or response to human behaviour, this project takes the client's interaction as generative.

The site is an ancient lava field covered in dense moss with a number of narrow, deep water bodies within the clefts.

The house is constructed of a rigid outer shell that has been bent in upon itself and sheared sectionally, to expand and contract the space of the interior. A series of spring-like wood arch ribs are stiffened by a wrap of glass reinforced plywood and cut Basalt (lava). This assembly is then supported along part of the interior by a long two-story bookshelf. The open interior faces of the shell are webbed by an all-glass structural surface, as either floors, walls (windows) or ceilings. A sandwich of glass and clear polycarbonate are employed as braces and used in conjunction with glass beams to maintain the openness of the shell and preserve a continuous connection between the two ends of the house. In this way, the two ends of the house are pulled together like the ends of a bow. Strung between wood ribs (floor to ceiling, adjacent rib to adjacent rib), concealed inside built-up layers of the exterior wrap, a collection of curtains define all interior spaces.

The house interior is a montage of curtains; layers upon layers in varying densities define programmatic areas (places to sing, paint, write, sleep, cook, etc.). The variations in curtains, their beginnings and ends also contribute to the definition of programs. Since they are curtains however, the surfaces are as varied as textiles can be. Each layer operates on tracks and can be drawn or stored into place, and though the tracks are fixed, they permit this build-up of layers to change at whim.

Each curtain explores its material characteristics to facilitate a number of experiences within the house: acoustic separation, visual separation through varied opacities, access to media (as a projection surface or with integral, interwoven electronics), access to adjacent spaces through pleats, slits and zippers (rather than doors), additional structural support as tensile walls, but perhaps most significant is their interaction with the inhabitants. Since the curtains move along a complex array of tracks, the spaces within the house are constantly in flux. Much like the landscape, the activities and desires of the inhabitants are enacted as a kind of force on the building. The by-product of this is a record of their occupation — the house functioning as a register of past experiences. When one or the other is home, the record of the last person there or their time together is left by the temporary position of these various layers. As either she or he waits for the other to arrive, the memory of the other is imbued in the last fixed position of the interior and is then remade as they live there. Expectation and promise become the form of the house. While this potential exists in any home, here it is inextricably linked to architecture’s behaviour.