Icelandic Embassy in Berlin

The Icelandic embassy is located in the north western corner of the Nordic Embassies complex in Berlin. The lot is defined by the embrace of the external 'copper band', and the embassies of Norway and Denmark, respectively distanced by a narrow alley and a shallow pool. The entry to the embassy complex is from the south. Because of its size and location Iceland has the least dominant presence in the midst of a Scandinavian architectural circus.

The mass of the embassy is stripped to a simple black form with hints of openings rather than windows, alluding to the remote harshness of the nation it represents. The entrance is marked by a light coloured stone wall illuminated by flickering light reflected from the pool. A low slot follows the pool from the entrance into the reception opposite a large north-facing window to a lava filled court. The ground floor houses general administration functions and the main document store. Above the reception a terrace serves a double height meeting room. The remainder of the first and second floors are devoted to offices.

Behind a tall opening in the east facade is a crack, a man-made gorge, allowing a northern-like light deep into an undulating circulation core. In stark contrast to the dark exterior the interior is light coloured, but like the Icelandic wilderness, the apparent simplicity of this polarity is elaborated in a series of like-coloured elements which collectively make a calm whole. The top floor is occupied by the ambassador and his staff, notated externally by a cut through which Central-European sunlight enters the ambassador's office.

The fenestration is controlled not only to impart an appropriate internal ambience and external appearance but also to maximise daylight and control solar gain. The offices are naturally ventilated with windows at eye and ceiling level the latter also incorporating a light-shelf. The room heights, especially of the meeting room, and the externally insulated mass of the structure reduce the need for supplementary cooling. The roof is grassed. On closer inspection the external blackness is revealed as a crinckly surface of shiny synthetic flint, a by-product of hydroelectric-intensive rockwool production.