Icelandic Parliamentary Offices
Members of the Icelandic parliament are presently housed in numerous properties of various suitability in downtown Reykjavík. The new building will provide offices, conference facilities, meeting rooms, IT, catering and gym facilities for all members and support staff on the Parliament site.
Archaeological excavations of the lot have revealed important remains, such as iron furnaces, that probably pre-date the accepted date of Iceland’s settlement. It is a window into the nation’s past at the precise point where decisions are made to define its future. The diverse and multi-layered strata trace the path of an entire society until its embodiment in the assortment of buildings of differing age, scale, material and function in and around the site.
The iron works were on what is now Tjarnagata. The remains will be made visible to passers-by and users beneath the weathering steel clad offices of the Speaker of Parliament. Other significant remains are at the junction of Tjarnagata and Vonarstræti. Here, on the sunny side of the site, reflected in the pool of the City Hall, is the main entrance. The sheer ashlar walls are composed of layers of indigenous stone interspersed with recycled contemporary materials. Large singular windows mark each parliamentarian’s office and a deep cut in the façade opens the heart of the building to light and weather. The publicly accessible ground floor is fully glazed.
The entrance is marked by the text Alþing inscribed in the stone paving in a typography lifted from the earliest known manuscript containing the word. Above one’s head is a rod hanging in equilibrium, an installation by the artist Kristinn E. Hrafnsson. One touch will upset it’s balance but in time it will steady to its former balance as foretold by the passage on the soffit:
ALLT LEIDDI TIL ÞESSARAR STUNDAR - EVERYTHING LED TO THIS MOMENT
From the entrance a bridge leads visitors over the archaeological excavations and through the security check. The ground floor houses conference rooms with attendant publication, media and catering services. Flexible walls facilitate the opening of one room into another and the double height of the largest room allows spatially demanding functions to be accommodated comfortably. The breakout spaces circulate and can be expanded out to an internal court when weather allows.
To access the upper levels, and other parts of the Parliament complex, one must pass through the security lock, even if entering via the secure basement carpark.
Reading and meeting rooms for the various committees are located on the first floor. A glazed corridor links this level to the offices of the Speaker of Parliament, the existing Parliament buildings and the proposed extension that will be constructed on the back lot. Similarly, a glazed bridge can connect this floor to the adjacent Oddfellow building the event of future expansion.
The individual offices for the members of Parliament and their support staff are on the second and third floors and planned so that up to 16 political parties can have direct access to private groupings of offices. Smaller meeting rooms are distributed throughout the floors and larger, shared meeting and cloakroom facilities are clustered centrally. The restaurant and gym are on the roof with generous sheltered terraces, moss gardens and long views south, over the city lake to the mountains of the Reykjanes peninsula.
Client : Alþingi - The Icelandic Parliament
Architects : Studio Granda
Artist : Kristinn E. Hrafnsson