International Architecture Competition

Iceland
Cave Tower

Results

Foreword

Competition organisers

Iceland 
Cave Tower Iceland 
Cave Tower

Official Partners

Iceland 
Cave Tower

The Iceland Cave Tower Competition was the fourth Bee Breeders event in an ongoing design series, set in the extraordinary landscape of Iceland. The competition site on Vogar farmland is located near lake Mývatn in northern Iceland, and the event was organized in partnership with the landowners, Landeigendur Voga ehf. 

Participants were tasked with submitting proposals for an observation point accommodating a small visitor center on the farmland’s site overlooking Vogagjá – a spectacular ground fissure resulting from seismic activity. The fissure is especially significant as a marker of the boundary between the two tectonic plates of the European and North American continents. 

The Vogagjá fissure also houses caves that have become popular bathing spots, with waters naturally heated by volcanic flows. The caves receive thousands of annual visitors, and while the remote site of Vogar farmland has become a popular destination, its surrounding lava fields have unfortunately sustained significant damage in recent years. In addition to an observation point to identify the site, the landowners seek a modular design solution for walking paths to better preserve the fragile natural surroundings. 

The project sought eco-friendly, site-specific solutions. Proposals were considered for their constructability, cost-effectiveness, resistance to extreme weather, environmental responsibility, energy-efficiency, and low maintenance. They were also evaluated for their strength of concept and their promise to become a meaningful destination. The winning schemes will be considered for construction. 

Hundreds of submissions were received from around the world. They creatively explored a broad variety of forms, means for integration within the landscape, and also abstract expressions. Designs experimented with both monolithic and humble presences. While some proposals made use of site-specific stone and earth as primary building materials, others proposed methods for prefabrication or utilization of factory-produced construction elements. 

Bee Breeders collaborated with a fantastic international and regional jury for this event: Louis Becker, partner at Henning Larsen; Marshall Blecher, founder of Marshall Blecher Studio; Jette Hopp, director at Snohetta; Borghildur Indriðadóttir, Icelandic artist; and Kristina Loock, head of business development at GMP. We express our gratitude to the jury panel for its support and conscientious analysis of the submissions. 

Bee Breeders and its jury panel would like to thank each of the participants for submitting such a range of ideas to this competition!

1st Prize Winner

Project name

Rising from Grjótagjá

Authors

Mareike Schlatow
Gaspar Cánepa

Denmark

Why do you enter architecture
competitions?

Competitions help to engage and think about projects with less constraints, which allows to create new fundamental concepts and values.

Jury commentary

Rising from Grjótagjá installs three individual volumes, connected by a system of paths spanning the tectonic divide. These buildings connect the visitor to the two continents in a subtle and gentle way. The volumes play into the Icelandic landscape and become manmade extensions of nature. The volumes are related formally, and their different functions suggest that the visitor can move among them to explore the site and feel the grandness of standing at the frontier of two continents. According to the jury, “The spatial organization inside the buildings is quite convincing, and the connection to the landscape works well. The project's reference to traditional farmhouses supports the concept of being one with nature. It has the strength to be realized.” The jury also praised the project’s minimal, elegant, and considerate siting: the three simple building volumes feel "undesigned" yet crisply abstract in the vast natural landscape – an unpretentious yet precise intervention to mark the site. The concept demonstrates a sensitive approach to the context, giving clear priority to nature, with a spatial strategy based on a series of interventions or, incisions in the landscape. Creating a special compositional tension, the work is particularly convincing in the experience of an interplay between the minimalist elements, present and subtle at the same time. The suggested combination of rammed earth and modular wood construction with landscaped roofs is realistic and ideally supports the concept. The resulting raw exteriors and interiors link to the site and promise to age gracefully into the natural habitat.

2nd Prize Winner+
BB STUDENT AWARD

Project name

THE MOVING SURFACES

Authors

Aleksandra Bieszka
Maria Pielach
Aleksandra Mucha

University

Uniwersytet artystyczny w poznaniu
+146 points!

Poland

Why do you enter architecture
competitions?

We think that taking part in competitions is a very interesting experience that broadens our horizons. It provides us with an opportunity to work in a group setting and prepares us for our future careers. Participation in competitions enables us to present our design vision to a larger audience and compare it with the ideas of other participants.

Jury commentary

Moving Surfaces offers an independent, reflective approach to the task, based on a thorough analysis of the site and its context, by transferring the building into the mass of nature with subtle pathways and iconic viewpoints. The result ranges between a careful use of form and a strong presence for the place, and thus represents a new identity – a sculptural beauty, clearly publicly accessible. According to the jury, the project is simple, smart and iconic, “The landart qualities of the project are convincing, and with the concept of being a measure of how the two tectonic plates move each year. By being present on both sides of the fissure, and at the same time creating the measure, the visitor can 'walk' the tension between the two tectonic plates.” It is a project that is easily understood, suggests a movement for the visitor to experience the place, and it is a strong contrast to the landscape. The building connects indoor activities to the outdoor. The connections to the caves are part of the constructed triangle, and lead people to the main attractions.

3rd Prize Winner

Project name

hófsemi

Authors

Kamila Szatanowska
Paulina Rogalska

Poland

Why do you enter architecture
competitions?

For us, taking part in architectural vision competition is a big chance for experimentation with space and structure, an opportunity to celebrate the design process and to face unusual topics. It develops us as professionals and motivates us to search for new ways of thinking about architecture.

Jury commentary

Hófsemi (translation = moderation) is a well-resolved proposal with a strong connection to the surrounding landscape and a unique lookout point. The project proposes three distinct blackened box-forms housing the toilets and showers, a visitor center, and an observation platform. Most strikingly, the observation platform appears to levitate over the fissure, with an open metal grill catwalk that permits the visitor to view directly below while traversing the gorge. According to the jury, “The careful consideration and willingness to step back from ‘the idea’ is very commendable. The execution remains a bit simplistic and undeveloped.” The jury also praises the design of the raised walking path for the strength of its visual and physical connectivity to the main building with its two satellites.

BB GREEN AWARD

Project name

SKERA Visitor Centre

Authors

Vaia Vakouli
Orestis Gkouvas

United Kingdom

Why do you enter architecture
competitions?

When you are young, a competition helps you find a narrative, present an idea, and get familiar with silly deadlines. As you get older, a competition is a good way to break routine. Competitions offer a rare opportunity to showcase and experiment with ideas and architectural expression without restrictions. You challenge your skills and learn new things.
Clients Favorite

Project name

Dance of the Giants

Authors

Agata Vodnicka
Andrius Raguotis

Lithuania

Why do you enter architecture
competitions?

We adore challenges and architecture competitions are a great way to keep the creative juices flowing, as they encourage imaginative freedom. That said, it is a great platform for emerging architects to showcase their design skills and share unique ideas.

Honorable mentions

VIEWclose HONOURABLE MENTIONS

Project Name

The Grjótagjá Tower

Country

Denmark

Project authors

Barbara Drud Henningsen

Project Name

PERISCOPE

University

University of pisa
+72 points!

Country

Italy

Project authors

Antonio Salvi
Antonello Boschi
Francesco Polci
Filippo Pecorai

Project Name

Monolith

Country

Italy

Project authors

Giacomo Cozzi
Andrea Maltinti

Project Name

HIGH GROUND

Company

Silvester fuller

Country

Australia

Project authors

Bruce Feng
Alexandra Hopkins
Penny Fuller
Jad Silvester

Project Name

Together Apart

Company

Variant studio

Country

Latvia

Project authors

Arthur Analts

Project Name

KLAMM

Country

Germany

Project authors

Martynas Degutis
Michael Samson
Justus Würtenberger

Shortlisted projects

VIEWclose Shortlisted projects

Portugal

rui pedro santos
ricardo ibrahim

Slovenia

University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Architecture

+22 points!
blazka ilovar
mojca kastelic
nika guzelj
ursa heric

Belgium

thibaut van der beken
aurélie van calenbergh
oskar vanhulst

Czech Republic

Kogaa

alexandra georgescu
tomas kozelsky
viktor odstrčilík

Sweden

KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Kungliga Tekniska Högskolan

+22 points!
gabriel stuart
koosha hosseini

Lithuania

agata vodnicka
andrius raguotis

Poland

University of Fine Arts in Poznań (Uniwersytet Artystyczny im. Magdaleny Abakanowicz w Poznaniu)

+146 points!
aleksandra bieszka
maria pielach
aleksandra mucha

United States

afshan behnamghader
konstantinos moustakas
anna vasileiou
peter lin

France

ENSA , École Nationale Supérieure d'Architecture de Paris-Belleville

+22 points!
pablo castro
louis boulacheb

Australia

Silvester fuller

bruce feng
alexandra hopkins
penny fuller
jad silvester

Germany

martynas degutis
michael samson
justus würtenberger

Spain

laia rafel filella
bianca suárez steckelmacher
marc sanchez alfonso
ignacio escarpenter garcia

United States

anton schneider
andri luescher
ryan nguyen
miaojie zhang

Italy

University of Pisa

+72 points!
antonio salvi
antonello boschi
francesco polci
filippo pecorai

France

ENSA , École Nationale Supérieure d'Architecture de Paris-Belleville

+22 points!
lucas dias
ariel calabrese

Argentina

Faculty of Architecture, Planning and Design (Facultad de Arquitectura, Urbanismo y Diseño (F.A.U.D.) [Sede Ciudad Universitaria] | U.N.C.)

+22 points!
valentín andres vodanovic
alejandro nicolas rodriguez masjoan
agustín francisco rennella

Serbia

University of Novi Sad - Faculty of Technical Sciences

+22 points!
aleksandar dadic

France

ENSA Normandie, Ecole Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture de Normandie

+22 points!
marion duval
vincent lecler

Poland

piotr dziewierz
filip sierak
maria zimnoch

Germany

MSA, Münster School of Architecture / Fachhochschule Münster

+22 points!
finn blindow
julius wolff

South Africa

Saota

dani reimers
camrin plaatjes
phillippe fouché
jacques steyn

Estonia

TalTech – Tallinn University of Technology

+22 points!
tauri tamme
anna solts
elis märks
saamuel rammo

Denmark

mareike schlatow
gaspar cánepa

Sweden

rickard jakobsson
markus wenden

Hungary

peter tokaji
n. bence krajnyak

United Kingdom

vaia vakouli
orestis gkouvas

France

ENSA - National School of Architecture of Versailles, Ecole nationale supérieure d'architecture de Versailles

+22 points!
aurélien massart
thomas lourdeaux
thibault lerouge

Poland

kamila szatanowska
paulina rogalska

Hungary

norbert pánovits
laszló simon
vanda kocsis
dóra grádinger

United States

Pratt Institute

+22 points!
benjamin smithers
kofong hsia

Poland

jędrzej pawlaczyk
anna swarowska
marcin gęzikiewicz

United States

matthew casaverde
rj fiorentino
sebastian faciolince
sholan kunjappan

Italy

carlo giovanni bernyak
martino bonfioli
cecilia giulia bersani

Spain

antonio pérez cerpa
pablo delgado márquez
ruben ortega gonzalez
 

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