Bathing by the horizon
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Öxarfjörður is a small community in NE Iceland which has been facing severe population decline in the last decades and largely sits outside of the tourism routes in the country. The community is in search of opportunities to attract more visitors to the area and to help turn this population trend around. Iceland is a geologically active area as it sits on the boundary between the North-American and Eurasian tectonic plates. This means that the magma from the Earth’s core is not so far from the bottom of ones feet when in Iceland. The boundary of the tectonic plates runs right through Öxarfjörður, resulting in a rich resource of geothermal water running through fissures in the bedrock. This resource is underused but there is interest among the locals to use it to create a bathing area. Bathing in natural hot springs is an age old practice in Iceland though it was not until the 20th century that the concept of public swimming pools really took off and today you will find such pools all over the country. The task of this project is to select a site within Öxarfjörður for a bathing area and to develop a design proposals of pools where the landscape character and qualities of the site guide the design process. PREMISE FOR THIS PROJECT In order to identify the most interesting site for a bathing area within Öxarfjörður the first task was to identify the components which build the landscape, how their composition inspires feeling of ease and/or anxiety and how design projects can be used to highlight and describe the landscape in which they sit. The next step was to build a portrait of the Icelandic nature and which aspects of the landscape give it its character. This was done by looking at subjects of landscape paintings by Icelandic painters and descriptions in literature. Subsequently, combine the understanding from the first part and use the conclusions to understand and evaluate potential sites for a bathing area in Öxarfjörður. The result of this part is the selected site to develop the bathing area. The final part of the project is the development of the bathing area. The qualities of the landscape of Öxarfjörður were used as a guide for the design process. The outcome of the design process is a series of pools along the coastline where the landscape can be appreciated from the vantage point of the pool.