Borgarhöfði Plaza

Project information

  1. Location Reykjavik, Island
  2. Area21.600 m²

Project details

  1. Year2023
  2. StatusCompetition proposal
  3. Client Klasi Real Estate Development Company
  4. Enquiries Stijn Kemper
  5. Scope Workplace design
    Interior design
    Commercial planning
    Landscape design
    Culture buildings

Borgarhöfði is an area in east Reykjavik that was mainly used for agriculture in the 20th century and subsequently for small-scale industry. The future vision for Borgarhöfði is a new neighbourhood for 15,000 people with spaces for offices, retail, schools and restaurants. Borgarhöfði Plaza will be the heart of the neighbourhood, housing an office building and a multipurpose assembly hall with commercial space. These two buildings, with the connecting new central plaza, Krossmýratorg, will be a thriving meeting place and venue for culture in the neighbourhood.

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A high degree of flexibility was required for this project. Both spaces had to be adaptable for a wide range of programmes and users, both from day one and for future use. The modern and flexible office building has large, open floorplates that can be adapted to companies of different sizes and with varied work styles. The multifunctional assembly hall, Höfðahús, will be used host recreational, cultural and other public activities for both residents of the neighbourhood as well as visitors.

The iconic shape and use of natural materials gives Höfðahús a strong presence within the landscape, while its minimalist architecture harmonises with the adjacent office building. It acts as a living room where locals, employees and visitors can come together for informal gatherings. The base is formed by an attractive and accessible ground floor with a restaurant that flows over to an amphitheatre for gatherings, concerts and lectures. The south end of the building has a landscaped terrace that can be used for working, dining and socialising. The upper floors house the new local library and several multifunctional spaces for workshops and courses.

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The material palette is a minimal yet rich, contrasting yet complimentary. To create visual harmony between the buildings, we chose wood and anodized aluminium for their warm tones. The office building has more aluminium, with wood details, while Höfðahús is mainly wood, with aluminium accents. For the interior, we chose dark stone colours for the retail and dining spaces on the ground floor.
The plaza, Krossmýratorg, connects the two buildings with winding paths between the public programmes on the ground floor. It consists of several green islands varying in size with robust native species of trees, shrubs, herbs and mosses. It was designed to host a wide variety of events – large and small – all within the sheltered surroundings of the sloping landscape and local vegetation. Beyond its aesthetic purposes, the landscape design will also improve microclimate conditions and water retention. Additionally, we conducted detailed wind and sun studies for optimal outdoor microclimates and indoor temperatures to create comfortable spaces all year round in a cold climate.
Iceland’s widespread use of geothermal energy means that the CO2 footprint of the buildings is minimal. Our sustainability approach was therefore focused on the long-term use, durability and flexibility of the buildings. For materiality, we went with a flexible and futureproof approach, using low-impact materials that are also durable and easy to maintain.