Olga Árnadóttir is one of the BA-Architecture graduates 2013 of the Icelandic Academy of the Arts.

The task for all BA students was to design a refuge, a cairn on the journey of knowledge and self reflection that serves as a setting for educational camps for school groups during the winter and a resting place for travelers on their hiking pilgrimage during summers. Set in the vicinity of lake Kleifarvatn, the building incarnates a stopover on a path that stretches along the continental drift ridge across the island, from Reykjanes in the south to Axarfjörður in the North.

Here we have Árnadóttir’s Ljóshvörf.

The building is a stopover for two different target groups, on the one hand, hikers will do brief stops on their passage through the volcanic zones of Iceland during summer and, on the other hand, school children will dwell there during spring and fall to study and enjoy the environment as well as engaging in a dialogue with the peaceful environment.


The two different groups can be described as trajectories crossing the building from different direction, having different perspectives and expectation to the staying. The scenery of Lake Kleifarvatn can be enjoyed from the building since it stands in a ravine facing Lake Kleifarvatn.


Exhausted hikers will access the building from below, craving for rest and recovering, while anxious school children will approach the lake from above seeking new knowledge and wisdom.Inspiration for the arrangement of the building comes from requirements of the two different target groups and the contrast between them is reflected in the design.


The building consists of three main rooms named Day and Night, which are adjacent, and Refinement which is separate from the main building and refers to a structural dialogue between the building and the surroundings.


Day and Night overlap in two levels and offer different experiences.

Night reflects the exhausted traveler laying down, seeking dusk and shelter at the same time, providing the optimum condition for resting.

Day speaks loudly and cheerfully like a child, eager to learn and explore, full of energy and youth. Day is bright like a children’s mind, spectacular view and general multiplicity.


Children enjoy the building at daytime, traveller comes at night time


Visitors experience the contrast between these three main parts of the building by reflection of different entrances for different target groups and different choice of materials. This allows visitors to share experience with people with different experience and different perspectives. Children gain insight to the tired mind of the traveller and the traveller experiences the cheerful play at daytime as he or she reflects on the route taken.

The contact between levels in the building is made by a bright rift, illuminating the lower level of the building from above. Refinement is close to the lake shore, where outdoor-showers are located and where children can bring treasures from the environment for further studies. This part of the building is intended to subsidize visitors experience during their visit.



All images by Olga Árnadóttir

This is our second edition of our yearly round-up of final projects by brand new designers graduating from the Iceland Academy of the Arts.