The Solheimar ecovillage that I visited while on holiday in Iceland was full of interesting takes on environmentally conscious architecture. For example, most of the buildings have sod roofs, which provide extremely good insulation in Iceland's cold, windy climate. Architecture in the village places heavy emphasis on local building materials and geothermal power. From a design standpoint, the most interesting building in Solheimar is at the heart of the village: Sesseljuhus.
The Sesseljuhus structure is the center of Solheimar, both physically and psychologically. The building functions as a resource and information center on Solheimer and environmental living, and also serves as a community hub, where events and celebrations take place throughout the year. Designed by Icelandic archiecture firm ASK, Seseljuhus makes extensive use of glass, reflecting the stark icelandic landscape.
Sesseljuhus’s outdoor cladding is made from Siberian driftwood that had been carried to Iceland by the ocean’s currents. Wall and floor insulation is made of natural sheep’s wool, while the roof is insulated with paper. All energy used in the structure originates from environmentally sustainable sources: Solar and hydro power supply the building with electricity, in addition to a unique generator that produces electricity from the temperature difference existing between hot and cold water. The house is heated using geothermal hot water from Solheimar’s own borehole.
Images via the ASK website