Rósa Þórunn Hannesdóttir 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 is Rósa Þórunn Hannesdóttir’s Varða, The Travellers Landmark and Place of Tranquility.
Collage leiðin ketilstígur ljósmynd

According to the designer,

The Travellers pilgrimage begins at the edge of Reykjanes and reaches across the whole of Iceland, towards Öxarjörður. During the traveller’s pilgrimage ancient folk paths are traced and footsteps of long forgotten ancestors are followed, one cairn at a time.

Diagram program 03 copy

The building is placed out of sight in the East of Sveifluháls and only appears to those in need. It is the travellers cairn and it is controlled by the journey. In a distance the building appears to form a whole but as the traveler draws nearer the building starts to crack.

HM site section


Forming four pieces, each dealing with a certain ceremony. Sharing, cleansing, sleeping, and hosting. The building is spatially arranged according to the way of eyktir (a certain time of the calendar day according to an ancient Icelandic tradition) and the clear axis that the paths of the travellers and school children draw. Spaces carve themselves into the mass of the building, the mass of the cairn.

HM sectionsThe traveller approaches the building from the west around nón (from three to six in the afternnon) and leaves around rismál (from six to nine in the morning) towards the next cairn with the sun in his line of sight.

HM plan
The schoolchildren approach the building around hádegi (from twelve to three), the building opens up towards them and leads to Kleifarvatn for exploring. From there the building serves them as a cairn, a landmark they can look towards to find their way home.

The project was exhibited at Reykjavik Art Museum in the LHÍ Student Show 2013.

All images by Rósa Þórunn Hannesdóttir


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.