Founded in 2008, Vatnajökull National Park is Europe’s largest national park and is famous for the Vatnajökull glacier. ARKÍS won a competition to design one of the park’s visitor centers, which they completed construction on last year. The 765 sq meter visitor center houses a cafe, exhibition areas, offices, a shop, a library, and meeting areas.
The form of the building was inspired by the formation of a glacier, wherein a large mass of compressed snow is squeezed through a tight space. Visitors approach the center from below almost as if they were a climber ascending the glacier, and parking and service areas are kept hidden by landscaping to keep the view pure. Sited on a sloping hill, the building glides over the terrain, enjoys sweeping views of the landscape, and is sheltered from winds.