terra firma - winner, icelandic trekking cabins (2016)
First place is awarded to a project distinguished by its clever articulation of the most basic elements of shelter — the roof and wall — to create a fully immersive experience. The shelter presents itself as an expansive roof, allowing the textured landscape to permeate through. Supporting the roof, gabion walls from local stone rise from the ground, appearing as pre-existing relics in the landscape. Arranged into three distinct volumes, the walls create both interior shelter from the elements and exterior gathering space. Elevated wooden platforms are inserted as needed in the interior, providing reprieve from the elements, leaving the local terrain largely untouched. The weight of the roof and walls celebrate permanence, while the porous quality of the material and spatial sequencing open the project to the transitory nature of the landscape.
It is in this delicate balance between rigid structure and an untouched landscape that the project finds resonance. The play between man made and natural heightens the visitors awareness of surrounding, allowing protection from the elements while still remaining fully engaged within the environment. In a landscape where the temporal patterns of hiking and camping are lauded for a leave no trace transience, the shelter challenges the perception that permanence and obstruction necessarily go hand-in-hand, developing an architectural language that both monumentalizes the act of camping and allows natural systems of the site — animals, hydrology, and fauna — to flow through uninterrupted.