Text by andrúm architects
In designing the building, the architects at Andrum sought to reflect Madame Vigdís’ views and values with regard to culture and history, communication and respect, in the broadest sense.
The Veröld building stands in a prominent location on the University campus, and makes an impression from Suðurgata, in its striking position on the corner of Brynjólfsgata, and facing equally in all directions.
By lowering the ground level at the south of building to form a piazza, the building takes account of the immediate surroundings, while also creating a clear and natural connection with the Main University centre, and in the future with further buildings on the campus.
The building interacts across the piazza with the old Telegraph Office, which in former times played a crucial role in Iceland’s communication with the outside world. Today the Vigdís Finnbogadóttir Institute is the torch-bearer – an international centre of language,
and at the same time a pioneer of culture.
Good access to the piazza is provided by steps and a ramp which meanders around it. Here and there are places to sit and relax – as the site is sheltered and sunny. On the piazza is a representative of the Friendship Forest at Þingvellir, selected by Vigdís, and around the Friendship Tree is a work of art in the piazza pavement, representing branches splitting into ever-smaller tendrils – a symbol of the history of language, moulded in copper.
The building also looks inward; all the major aspects of the manifold activities to be housed there are focused on a large central space, which effectively accesses all levels and all departments – brings us closer to each other, brings us together, to quote Vigdís herself.
The design is grounded in principles of sustainability and an environmentally-friendly methodology, in keeping with the University of Iceland’s environment policy – and special attention has been paid to accessibility for all, with all-round design. The entire design process has been based upon the building meeting standards for BREEAM certification.