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Raw Beauty | A Hungarian architect duo won with a volcano museum designed for Iceland



Csenge Györgyi and Bálint Iszak, a Hungarian designer duo living in New Zealand designed an impressive building connected closely to its surroundings next to one of the largest volcanic craters of the world, the Hverjfall in Iceland.

The Hverjfall volcano is situated on the northern part of the island of Iceland, in Dimmuborgir region, the 140 meter deep and 1000 meter wide crater of which is one of the largest in the world. The spot is a popular tourist destination- only a place where hikers can rest for a bit, or where the installations reflecting on the unbelievably inspiring landscape can be placed is missing. The Bee Breeders site focusing on architecture competitions announced a call for ideas based on this gap under the title Volcano Museum.

New Zealand-based Csenge Györgyi and Bálint Iszak came first in the call. The architects imagined the building as the touristic center of the region, which they inserted elegantly into the landscape.

By shifting the axis of the facility towards the volcano, and by lowering the building with half a floor, such spatial experiences are born (view, transparence) that reveal the environment to visitors in a new light. Lowering the museum facilitated embedding it into the landscape, and it enhances the sense of protection – on the completely open area – against extreme weather conditions typical of the location. Due to the large surface area and lowering the building into the terrain, natural light is provided by skylights, the vertical elements of which balance the horizontal appearance of the building.

– the creators told us about the project. The reinforced concrete and steel structure, as well as the textured metal forefront elements rhyme well with the simple yet impressive beauty of the landscape. All this is complemented by the roof with natural green vegetation also dominant in traditional Icelandic architecture. 

The architects also placed a great emphasis on the resting place function in addition to the exhibition spaces. The museum serves as a true haven amidst the many times rough and grey weather, where we can “get recharged with a perfectly roasted coffee and splendid view“ before continuing our journey – says the project description. 

Bálint and Csenge both graduated from the Faculty of Architecture of the Budapest University of Technology and Economics, and currently they work for award-winning architect offices in New Zealand: Csenge works for Guy Tarrant Architects, while Bálint is employed by Fearon Hay Architects

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