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Iceland  Grjótagjá Cave Tower

This tower is an open-air museum that leads you, step by step to discover the landscape and the beauty of Iceland.   The tower is also a space for culture, exhibition. Can an observation tower be also a space for music, orchestras or concerts.

Like the Prometeo by Renzo Piano, stairs and platforms can host musicians while people sitting on ground floor are surrounded by nature. This journey is a sequence of stories. Like the trojan tower in Rome, the ascension is linked to the narration; the narration tells stories about the magic of Iceland. Can a facade reflect the beauty of Iceland and become transparent? Although the structure is a solid connections of galvanised steel CHS, our aim is to make them disappear.


The mirrored front façade and the floating lights, all together, help to light the structure up. The entrance of the tower is through a crack that obviously reminds the tectonic plates crack. The crack and the Icelandic  words for EURASIA and NORTH-AMERICA are lit behind the facade to be seen from a far distance.   In order to access the visitors centre you have to pass through the crack and the mirrored tunnel. We didn’t want to have a separate access to the centre. We want the visitor to perceive this idea of “penetration” before to access the centre and be forced to see the tower from inside like a cave. 

Landscape, Architecture, 
Artistic impression tower


Iceland is an open-air museum. Iceland is an explosion of  the four elements earth, fire, water and air. This tower aims to embrace all these elements.

A tower is a link between ground and sky, therefore a tower has two dimensions; one anchored to the ground and one  more ethereal. The higher you get the more spiritual you feel. And like a journey that starts from the fire  under earth to the spiritual essence of the sky, the floating lanterns lights guide you through this journey. This tower is not just about reaching the top, it is more about the journey itself. 

Balsa model tower
Artistic Impression

The tower is made of recycled galvanised CHS steel, a very sustainable material able to resist to cold, rain, snow and wind. Due to the extreme windy contidion of the site, bracing are designed to support lateral and uplift forces. The carving of the letters, the crack on the front elevation, the gap between the panels allow the wind to pass through and reduce the lateral load on the columns. 

All the elements are built off site and assembled on site to reduce embodied carbon emission and to reduce time labor.   THE WAVE Like northern lights who dance in the sky, wind models surfaces and becomes a dancer as well. The west elevation has square hollow section  positioned on the grid

View of the bar
Entrance door

to mimic a wave generated by the wind. At the end of each “log” a movable plate with piezoelectric film sensor produce energy from the movement of wind. This energy is then collected with PV panels to generate power to the light/power circuit of the tower and visitor centre. The west elevation is designed like a wind  wave, while the front elevation is designed like a earth crack produced by a seismic wave. Through the ascension,  there are a number of exhibition points and floating globes that narrate the meaning of the site and its origin.

Sketch of the bar
Sketch of the bar seatings
Artistic impression night time
Walking lights
Balsa model tower

Copyright of STUDIO SINTAA 

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