Bifröst Business School

Bifröst Business School is located in a large lava field in Borgarfjördur, a grand flat-bottomed valley rising from the head of Borgarfjord in Western Iceland. The location is remote and virtually uninhabited; the nearest town is 40-km distant and 120-km from the capital, Reykjavik. The school was first established in 1918 and has been expanded slowly over the intervening years.

A major expansion program was started with the construction of new student and staff accommodation and the addition of a new school building, café and quadrangle.

The existing school consisted of three main built components. The old school, the dormitory wing and a separate teaching wing connected to the other buildings by a subterranean passage. The new building was designed to engage with and connect the existing facilities to encourage the free flow of students throughout the complex at all levels. New teaching, management and meeting facilities were incorporated within the new structure as well as a new two-storey hall. Multi-functionality is a key component of the design, as this small building must serve the multifarious needs of the growing campus community. Five sets of movable walls enclose the hall allowing its use as a series of three meeting/seminar rooms to be transformed into a vast meeting place with many options in between.

Externally the building makes a new entrance statement with a sheer façade of corrugated copper framing the picture window of the hall. Side façades are fenestrated quietly to key into their context but at the rear a coloured plane grasps the existing building and frames a new quadrangle. The new café also occupies this space with a picture window commanding the quadrangle. Its location culminates and clarifies the existing back-buildings, shacks and boiler/laundry outhouses into a cohesive whole while simultaneously creating a private courtyard tucked away from the pressure of academic activity.

The enlargement of the school campus has required the removal of some of the lava-field. To mitigate the effect of this disturbance the lava was carefully removed and stored during construction and then reinstated on the roof where the moss can continue to grow peacefully. Furthermore the special characteristics of the site have been harnessed by the natural ventilation system and heating is provided by locally supplied geothermal sources. Although electrical power is hydro generated its use is minimised by the measured fenestration and generous roof lighting. These simple devices hopefully reflect the clarity and precision of the school pedagogy that uses the state-of-the-art technology to teach modern management techniques in an idyllic setting.

Client : Vidskiptaháskólinn Bifröst
Architects : Studio Granda
Structural Engineers : Línuhönnun
Environmental Engineers : Fjarhitun
Electrical Engineers : Verkfraedistofan Jóhann Indridasson
Acoustic consultancy : Línuhönnun

Further reading...

Nominated for the Myndstef honorary award 2005

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