Spa and Lodge
Dreki, Iceland
2,142 sm / 23,056 sf
Summer 2015

The remote and powerful landscapes of Iceland, not yet spoiled by senseless human occupation, generates the question: how do we accommodate travelers without ruining the site’s fragile beauty that attracts them? The arrival to the site, Dreki, requires a three-hour journey off of the Ring Road that encircles the island, across landscapes of sublime beauty, grandeur, and terrifying emptiness. In a remote and isolated region­—Askja—the site is located at the base of the hiking trail that leads to the destination of the Öskjuvatn crater, an immense basin of geothermal water.

The site is the beginning point of an 8-kilometer ascension into the mountains to experience the great crater, and is also the point of return upon the completion of the hike. Thus, the project serves as the threshold to this long-awaited journey—like a portal—it prepares its visitors on the hike and also receive them upon their return. The portal is composed of four main spaces—an atrium, courtyard garden, hot spring, and pool—which are connected by a public pathway sunken underground. The revealed buildings aboveground are fragmented pieces of a whole that seemingly touch the landscape lightly as not to disrupt its vastness, yet provide a recognizable landmark for hikers from afar. The project is both an architecture and a monument in its role in the hikers’ journey to Öskjuvatn.

University of Waterloo School of Architecture
Eighth Semester Design Studio
Critic: Andrew Levitt

© 2021. Haylie Chan. All Rights Reserved.