Esja Architecture has recently presented the Ring of Bjólfur, a ring-shaped viewing platform on the slopes of Mount Bjólfur, in East Iceland, 650m above sea level.
The platform will overlook Seydisfjordur, a narrow fjord with steep mountains known for its vibrant art scene, food culture, and annual art and music festival, as well as for having the only ferry connection from Iceland to mainland Europe. The simple concrete structure will sit on top of the rugged landscape and hover over the edge to provide spectacular views over the fjord and the Atlantic Ocean.
A 360° Experience
The ring will have a diameter of 32 meters, with a walkway and bench spanning its entire 100m circumference. The 360° experience will invite visitors to explore views of the surrounding mountains, the town, the valley, and the mountain peak above. The slightly sloping ring structure will also be wheelchair accessible.
Silver Colour Palette
The ring is constructed of concrete, with an inner railing of local larch and an outer railing of slim stainless-steel posts. The three materials display a range of silver-grey colour tones, with the larch’s silver patina, the steel’s glittering reflection, and the exposed concrete tones changing with the weather.
Ensuring robustness was an important factor in the material selection, as well as minimal maintenance due to the harsh weather conditions and remote location. The sharp silver colour palette contrasts nicely with the brown tones of the rocky landscape that it will sit on.
A Viking Ring
Mount Bjólfur is named after the Viking Bjólfur, who first settled in Seydisfjordur and is believed to have been buried high up on the mountain. It is Viking tradition to be buried with their most precious belongings, including jewellery and weapons. Accordingly, the Ring of Bjólfur symbolizes a precious silver ring belonging to Bjólfur, the forefather of the people of the fjord.
The structure sits on top of the landscape in two places, and cantilevers over the edge of the mountain. The load-bearing quality of the closed circle is very efficient, therefore requiring only four anchor points.
Construction of the Ring will begin this fall and is expected to be completed in fall 2024. The elevation of the construction site presents a challenge, with unpredictable weather conditions and steep road passes. Therefore, every detail of the construction process has been planned in advance.
Ring of Bjólfur was the winning proposal in a prequalified competition issued by the municipality in 2021. The project is being carried out as a cross-disciplinary collaboration between architects, landscape architects, and structural engineers, from concept to construction.