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basalt architects nestles 'guðlaug baths' into a rocky breakwater barrier in iceland

the ‘guðlaug baths’ by basalt architects are nestled into a rocky breakwater barrier that runs along the langisandur beach in akranes, on iceland‘s west coast. the project’s shape takes its cues from the naturally occurring pools of seawater, which form around rocks sitting on the beach as the tide flows in and out. the baths are open to the public and composed of three platforms, each serving a different function.basalt architects nestles 'guðlaug baths' into a rocky breakwater barrier in icelandimage by ragnar th. sigurðsson – arctic images

 

 

basalt architects’ ‘guðlaug baths’ are located on the langisandur beach, a popular common space for the people of akranes who pass by to enjoy the views, as well as use the beach for a variety of activities. the project is nested in a rocky breakwater barrier that runs along the beach and shelters sports grounds from the north atlantic ocean. north of the baths is a soccer stadium with an exposed concrete structure. the design proposal also suggests to repurpose the stadium’s ‘underbelly’ to include changing rooms, a café, and storage facilities.basalt architects nestles 'guðlaug baths' into a rocky breakwater barrier in icelandimage by ragnar th. sigurðsson – arctic images

 

 

the baths play a supporting role to the beach and surrounding facilities, acting, for example, as a gathering point for ocean swimmers in dire need of warming up. the architectural concept references the little sea pools that form in naturally occurring depressions around rocks on the beach as the tide flows in and out. the project developed as a three tier structure, where each tier revolves around a single rock. the top is a viewing deck inspired by the bow of a boat, while the middle tier is the main pool, sheltered from prevailing weather by the viewing deck and surrounding wall geometry. last, fed by the cascading overflow of the main pool, the lowest tier beach pool is cooler, allowing sea swimmers to adjust between going in the frigid ocean and the hot pool.basalt architects nestles 'guðlaug baths' into a rocky breakwater barrier in icelandimage by ragnar th. sigurðsson – arctic images

 

 

‘at high tide, the design allows users to experience the explosive power of the ocean under their feet,’ notes basalt architects. ‘at low tide the beach stretches out and little lukewarm pools from the overflow, form around rocks on the beach, perpetuating the original architectural concept. no two visits are the same, as the seasons, tides, light and weather change the experience every time.’

basalt architects nestles 'guðlaug baths' into a rocky breakwater barrier in icelandimage by ragnar th. sigurðsson – arctic images

 

 

two rocks from the barrier were placed in the pools: one naturally shaped as a chaise longue, and another with a recessed light to spotlight the ‘waterfall’. the entire structure is made of marine grade concrete, as it needs to withstand the intense force of the ocean. ‘the challenging construction site called for precast concrete elements to limit time and ensure quality,’ explains the reykjavík-based studio. ‘the timber formwork finish is a reference to the old fishing boats that once were an essential part of the town’s rich seafaring history.’

basalt architects nestles 'guðlaug baths' into a rocky breakwater barrier in iceland

image by basalt architects

basalt architects nestles 'guðlaug baths' into a rocky breakwater barrier in icelandimage by basalt architects

basalt architects nestles 'guðlaug baths' into a rocky breakwater barrier in icelandimage by basalt architects

basalt architects nestles 'guðlaug baths' into a rocky breakwater barrier in icelandimage by ragnar th. sigurðsson – arctic images

basalt architects nestles 'guðlaug baths' into a rocky breakwater barrier in icelandimage by basalt architects

basalt architects nestles 'guðlaug baths' into a rocky breakwater barrier in icelandimage by jón sævar hallvarðsson

basalt architects nestles 'guðlaug baths' into a rocky breakwater barrier in icelandimage by jónas ottósson

basalt architects nestles 'guðlaug baths' into a rocky breakwater barrier in icelandimage by jónas ottósson

 

 

project info:

 

name: guðlaug baths

architect: basalt architects

location: akranes, iceland

area: 100 m2

program: bathing facilities

client: akranes municipality, guðlaug gunnlaugsdóttir and jón gunnlaugsson memorial foundation

team: guðjón kjartansson, hrólfur karl cela, jón guðmundsson, sigríður sigþórsdóttir

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