Remote settlements in harsh environments pose especially difficult design challenges for architects. Buildings may need to be largely self-sufficient, with enclosures designed to protect during unpredictable weather patterns. Construction methods must account for availability of regional materials and equipment, or alternatively must consider the economic viability of prefabrication and transportation.

The following books provide insight into Icelandic architecture and design related to the often remote and difficult-to-navigate sites of Iceland’s trekking trails.

Habitation in Extreme Environments, by Rok Oman and Spela Videcnik
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This publication features the academic work of a 2014 Harvard GSD studio, which investigated a prototypical design for a compact mountain habitation in Slovenia. The program mandated a design solution for sleeping and cooking accommodations for up to eight people. Habitation in Extreme Environments documents the studio’s investigations into environmental conditions and design responses to strong wind loads, heavy snowfalls, avalanche risk zones and freezing temperatures.

Iceland and Architecture, by Gudmundur Ingólfsson and Peter Schmal
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Iceland and Architecture is a survey of the history and current state of Iceland’s unique collection of buildings. Essays span topics from the use of concrete to the birth of modernism, and focus on projects that range from shopping centers and offices to geothermal baths. The book offers a rich array of photographs documenting Iceland’s towns and villages, as well as its more remote sites.

Prefab Architecture: A Guide to Modular Design and Construction, by Ryan Smith
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Prefab Architecture is a reference manual which touches on all aspects of factory-produced modular building components. The book argues for prefabrication as a solution to better building systems integration, implementation of green design strategies, efficient site delivery and simplified assembly.

The Architecture of the Well-Tempered Environment, by Reyner Banham
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“…the shade of a single tree, the closing of a door or the lighting of fire in a spare bedroom might make the difference between tolerable and intolerable conditions.” In The Architecture of the Well-tempered Environment, Reyner Banham argues for architecture as a form of technology, and encourages thinking about design as the equal integration of the mechanical and the functional. Originally written in 1969, Banham’s teachings remain relevant today.

If you have any other recommendations for resources that may be useful, please feel free to email us with the name of the book, a short description of it and why you feel it would be beneficial to other Iceland Trekking Cabins competition participants.

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