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o r t f o l i o Arnar Þór Sigurjónsson

Arnar Þór Sigurjónsson Ásvallagata 65 101 Reykjavík Iceland +354 865 7943

Personal Statement My name is Arnar Þór Sigurjónsson and I am from Keflavik, Iceland. When I grew up the town had the population of 7.000. I moved to Reykjavik to study sociology in the University of Iceland. I don’t regret the time I spent studying sociology, it made me realise my where my interests were. In my sociological studies I was mostly focused on the sociology of space. In my final thesis I contemplated the power relation in space by reviewing Foucault and de Certeau. I was well into my Master’s degree when I realised that I didn’t see myself as a sociologist, sociology was more like a tool that I wanted to have at my disposal. At that time my mind had recently become aware of many interesting theories about the social environment, so I decided to revisit my childhood dream of becoming an architect. I had always been fascinated about architecture. When I was a young boy I would name mundane things after monuments; like the radio broadcasting tower and the fence around the military base in my home town, I would call them “the Eiffel tower of Keflavík” and “the Great fence of Keflavík.” I applied for the Iceland Academy of the Arts couple of months after my epiphany, making a portfolio from old sketches from the backsides of notebook pages, as well as making few new drawings. In the Iceland Academy of the Arts I met a lot of interesting people, both teachers and fellow students, that influenced my greatly. Since I was quite new to this field at the time I was very open and determined to view everything with a open mindset. If I had to define my style as an architect I would say it was very geometrical. I like to personify architecture, some places are arrogant, other are playful and naive, and some are humble and reserved. Sometimes I use geometry to express the characteristic that I’m trying to evoke. Often my style is quite dynamic, but I also think it is important to know when to be reserved. My projects usually have a philosophical or theoretical foundation from which the project evolves. A reoccurring theme in my work has been the relations between man and nature. A dichotomy which I have been fascinated about for a long time, and that fascination was reignited when I was introduced by my teacher Sverrisdottir to the writings of Deleuze and Guattari and the works of Richard Long among others. The reason I want to become an architect is to help create the environment for everyday life. Whether it is for a family within a household or for civilians within a public space, I find it enchanting that the stage for everyday life is previous and present architecture. I am aware of the political responsibility and I embrace it. Building a house is not just about building that house, it is about contributing in building a city. I am by no means a fully forged as an architect, nor do I want to be. I intend maintain the open mindset towards new experiences for as long as I can, and keep on maturing as an architect to the end of my studies and beyond.

Final project - Iðan

Atmosphere analysis

6. semester -a refuge for pilgrims My final project was to design a refuge for pilgrims traveling on a path that stretches along the continental drift ridge across Iceland, from Reykjanes in the south to Axarfjörður in the north. The refuge is located at Kleifarvatn, a lake which is surrounded by thermal energy due to movement in the seismic plates. At Kleifarvatn you’ll find nature in its most primative state, with geothermal steams rising from the ground and volcanic rocks reminding visitors of the site’s natural power. The theme of the project was to recreate the upcoming pilgrimage both in the approach, and within the building. After researching old maps of pilgrimages, a new abstract one was born (see below) which became a key in the design process. Each finger represent a certain period in the pilgrimage, based on what it alone symbolizes in western culture. In the pilgrimage Kleifarvatn represents guidance. It is at Iðan where the pilgrims need to find inspiration for the upcoming pilgrimage. By fractalizing the journey within Kleifarvatn, the project assists the pilgrims in answearing important questions. First of we have the thumb, which could symbolize approval, or disapproval, in other words the pilgrim has a decision to make. The pilgrim makes a decision to leave the road leading to settlement and seek guidance at Iðan.

Culture analysis

Nature analysis

Overall analysis


Promise Commitment Hostility Decision


Site Plan 1 : 20.000


io n

Final project - Iðan 6. semester -the building’s location and its qualities Iðan is located in a small cove on the east side of the lake. The site is relatively secluded due to high hills all around it. The only man-made structure apart from the building itself is a small gravel road leading up to the cove. It was essential that the building would harmonize well with its surroundings. The site had many interesting spatial qualities prior to the building. Iðan opens up or stretches to certain places in the environment and closes to others, trying to maximize the pre-existing qualities of the site. Iðan’s placement in the land is determanded by a mineralized volcanic trail, which forms an axis seperating a black beach to the east and coarse lava rocks to the west. The beach can be seen from anywhere in the cove resampling a square in the city, and serves as a sort of social venue. The pilgrims could find some privacy in the coarse landscape on the western side of the building, with a trail leading upto a small natural geothermal pool. In the cove the pilgrims experience the second part of the recreation of the pilgrimage. When walking on the gravel road leading to the cove a wall rises from the ground and guides the pilgrims to the building, before sinking back below the surface.

1. The beach is a social venue.

2. The view over Kleifarvatn.

3. Geothermal pool.

4. A gravel road leads up to the cove.

Site Plan 1 : 2.000




Gu ce




Early sketchmodel showing how the social area of the building opens up to the social area of the site.

Final project - Iรฐan 6. semester -the design process

Consept model: The pilgrims path through the building and the return home

In the project, and in a pilgrimage in general, there is a strong emphasis on the man-nature axis. The building finds its form between the euclidian human mind and the fluent forms of nature. The building finds inspiration in natural architectural spaces such as caves, cliffs, crevasses etc. As well as working with the qualities of the site. Since the consept of the building was to recreate the upcoming pilgrimage, the form is really inspired by movement. The building is formed by a single concrete plane that rises steadily from the ground and folds its way through the building and back again, representing the pilgrims journey. Even thorugh the pilgrim will return home after the pilgrimage, it is the journey he took that gives him a different mindset.

5. 4. 3.


Com ent




Ground Floor Plan 1 :200



lit y

Final project - Iรฐan 6. semester -plan and organization


m Pro 6.


Second Floor Plan 1 :200

1. Dining hall 2. Storage 3. Kitchen 4. Maintenance 5. Bathroom 6. Hallway (viewpoint) 7. Resting mezzanine

Once the pilgrim approaches the building a long wall steadily rises from the ground and leans aggressively over the pilgrim in a hostile manner, recreating the long walk over the Icelandic wasteland. The pilgrim then enters the building through the dining area, a social space, a zone of trust. Once the pilgrim has settled he walks up to the hallway where he is given the place to contemplate whether to embark on the journey, as he was promised. The plan of the building is very open, and people in different spaces can interact with one other. Mezzanine floors are common in Icelandic huts, they allow certain connections between people in different spaces. At the expense of privacy comes unity. Iรฐan is not meant to have a private space, the private spaces are in the nature that surrounds it.

Final project - Iðan 6. semester -a building in nature Iðan is a refuge for pilgrims traveling across Iceland. It is at Iðan where the pilgrims prepare mentally for the upcoming journey across Icelandic wastelands. A stay at Iðan is by no mean meant to be luxurious, it is meant to prepare the visitors for hardship. The visitors are suppose to bond with nature. Iðan brings people who have similar ambitions together. People venture upon pilgrimage for different reasons, Iðan is a venue for people to share their ambitions with others. A pilgrimage is a solitary action, where a pilgrim seeks answears to questions through leaving society behind and testing himself physically against nature. Iðan is a place where pilgrims can experience themselves in a group that is not deviant.

Section AA 1 :200

Section BB 1 :200

Section CC 1 :200

Research: Authors and their works

Private from family

In the course we were supposed to research an architect, do a presentation about the architect and his works and then finally design a house influenced by that architect. The architect that I researched was Peter Zumthor. We were supposed to design a house for a composer and its family in a suburban neighbourhood by the sea. The composer wanted to be able to work at home, although he wanted to have some privacy from the household while working. The family often gets visits from other family members living abroad, who stay for a while. The house organization is based on the level of privacy each room requires. Some rooms are private and other are public, but some require privacy from the family, like the studio and the guest bedroom. The public areas can extend themselves to the courtyard, due to folding glass doors. I also tried to focus the energy in the household to the side that is facing the street, making it calmer the further you get in to the house, making it the calmest in the studio, living room and master bedroom. That’s were residents search for an inspiration in the sea.


1. semester -a house for a composer and its family

1. 14.





11. 10.

Front elevation 1 : 100


Plan 1 : 100






3. 4. Section AA 1 : 500


Section BB 1 : 500


Section CC 1 : 500


Section DD 1 : 500 7.






1. Laundry room 2. Kitchen 3. Dining area 4. Bedroom 5. Hot tub 6. Bathroom 7. Dressing room 8. Master bedroom 9. Living room 10. Bathroom 11. Studio 12. Guest bathroom 13. Guest bedroom 14. Garage 15. Courtyard


p r o c e ss


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p r o c e ss

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Design: Process and realisation 2. semester -an emergency shelter Group project with: Pétur Stefánsson Sigrún Harpa Þórarinsdóttir

Skelin (e. shell) is an emergency shelter to be used during floods. The shelter consists of 8 equaliteral triangles cladded with textile mesh. Once assembled the shelter looks like a shell. The shelter is strung between trees or similar objects, and hangs above the water. Skelin works as a closable hammock and can support up to 4 adults. The structure is easy to assemble as all of the triangles are the same. The textile mesh protects the inhabitants from mosquitos and other insects without distrupting the inhabitant’s senses, who need to be on the look out for help. The shelter was built in full scale in Öskjuhlíðin. Skelin, among other shelters, got a coverage on national television.




ígur Klapparst



Original Site plan 1 : 1.000

Building masses Demolished buildings Renewed street facade Public walkways Public square





Klapparst Veghúsastígur


New Site plan 1 : 1.000

Building masses New building masses

Building a City 3. semester -designing a site Group project with: Elísabet Sara Emilsdóttir

The old buildings are surrounded by blocks.

Some houses are in bad shape.

Lindargata has two conflicting street facades.

The kindergarten lies in the middle of the site.

The site is framed by four streets; Lindargata, Vatnsstígur, Veghúsastígur, and Klapparstígur. The site is located in the Reykjavík’s centre in an area that has raised a lot of controversy. The demand for housing in the city centre is high, consequently high-rising buildings with luxury appartments were build on Lindargata. The new buildings are said to block view and be in no relationship with other buildings in the area. The site itself is also in bad shape. The kindergarten withdraws from the street and lies in the middle of the site, blocking pedestrians trying to pass through the site. In addition there are a lot of worn-down garages and a old abandoned factory that appear to be scattered randomly across the site. Our design aims to make the site more of a unit as well as making it pedastrian friendly. We decided to focus on Lindargata’s street facade while having openings for pedestrians to cross the site. Relocating the kindergarten more to the west and reducing it’s plot considerably make more space for new buildings and public areas.

Building a City 3. semester -compact homes for a more dense city

Living room

1st Floor

We wanted to respond to the high demands for living in the area, as well as showing an alternative to the high rising appartment blocks. It was our belief that the area should be mixed with people of different social statuses. For lower-middle class families we designed compact appartments. We wanted to avoid having joint-owned stairways, and preferred that the residents would have had their own entrence from ground level and have a direct opening to the communal courtyard. Our initial idea was to build high and narrow appartments inspired by modern japanese architecture, but soon started make the space more complex and dynamic to make it more interesting to live in. The appartments intertwine with one other.

Communal courtyard




Compact appartment

1 : 200

Drawing the buildings closer to the street makes the street more in tune with the human body.

Concept diagram displaying how two appartments interact with one other.

Master bedroom



3rd Floor

2nd Floor


Lindargata Compact appartments


4-bedroom appartments


Studio appartm


Klapparst ígur

Café Dual residence



Site plan


Appartments and gardens

1 : 1.000

Public garden Semi-public garden Private garden


Architecture and Nature 4. semester -architecture within nature




er ca bin

The assignment was to design a Náðhús located in Hvalfjörður. Náðhús is an ambiguous word which has many meanings, but would translate literally to house of grace. Most of these interpretations refer to some kind of solitude from society or a place to be alone with one’s thoughts (see diagram below). I wanted to design an escape from society and place that one discover its identity as an individual. Modern people are constantly trying to explore themselves but are having a hard time due to the rhythm in modern society. My concept suggests revisting our primal stage by being one with nature, focusing first on our primal physical needs once we’ve been stripped of them as selfproclaimed outlaws from society. The path towards the refuge lies over a high current river and up rocky slopes. It is a physically demanding walk. And it is when the hiker is physically exhausted he reaches the refuge, his primary conserns are his physical needs; heat, shelter, a place to eat. From there he will continue in his spirtual journey.

Náðhús et

rch Ch u

il To

Personal space

Site plan 1 : 10.000

Self Actualization





Self Actualization


A modern person’s prioritization

The Maslow Pyramid







path s ’ r Hike Section

Section through the site 1 : 10.000


Lower level Plan 1 : 200


Upper level Plan 1 : 200

Section AA 1 : 200


Architecture and Nature 4. semester -the Maslow pyramid within the architecture The hikers enter the refuge from east through a crack and then symbolically travel spirally in their search for their identity. The plan of the refuge is supported by the Maslow pyramids, firstly taking care of the physical needs of the hiker, and then moving onwards. After a long and tedious walk the hikers enter the refuge and receive shelter from the weather nurture their physical needs. When the hikers are physically satisfied, they tend to their social needs sitting in a circle in a sauna. And then finally the hikers walk down a long and shallow steps to enter the meditation space where they look over the path they have travel and think. 1. Physical space -shelter -safety 2. Social space -belonging -communication 3. Identity space -evaluation -meditation

West Elevation 1 : 200

North Elevation 1 : 200

Architecture and Nature 4. semester -structure and nature The refuge is made form concrete mixed with crushed rhyolite rocks which are all over the area. So it’s like a exaggerated continuation of the ground when the structure rises like geometrical cliff. The initial inspiration for the building were primitive dwellings. I wanted to make a modern cave, firstly because they serve the first step in the Maslow pyramid, but also because I find something beautiful about how caves embrace their dwellers.

0 ck ro ite

l yo Rh

Pavilion - Eggið 4. semester -a pavilion in Hljómskálagarðurinn The Pavilion is located in Hjómskálagarðurinn, a park in Reykjavík’s centre. The pavilion’s form is inspired by an egg, since the pavilion lies by a duck’s nesting area. While replicating nature I find it is important to remember my place in nature as a human being. Thus leaving human imprints on the creation. The pavilion is made from series of regular plates which form the oval form. At the beginning of the design process the plates were vertical and horizontal. However I felt like it was too stable as a form with the regular plates combined with the stable oval form. By tilting the plated 30 degrees I felt it had the perfect combination of regularity and dynamic. Each plate was manually calculated by making a series of sections at the joints. Overall there were over 200 sections just to make the oval form, then the process was repeated to subtract a smaller oval from within the form.

Sketch of the pavilion.

Early sketchmodel in the making.

Paper sketchmodel.

The Nordic House

Original concept sketch.

Site plan 1 : 2.000


Þingholtin The Pond

Nesting area


Pavilion - Eggiรฐ 4. semester -a visually deceptive pavilion The perspective of the on-looking viewer has a lot to say in how they experience the structure. While looking at the facade the pavilion looks almost transparent, with the Nordic House clearly visible and evening sunbeams shining through it. However, when viewed from the sides it looks as a solid structure, protecting the visitors from the south-east wind. Inside the pavilion there is a bench along the sides, where people can sit back and relax. The pavilion can also be used as a stage for small performers performing in the park.

Front Elevation 1 : 50



Plan 1 : 50


Side Elevation 1 : 50

Section AA 1 : 50

Pavilion - Eggið 4. semester -a striated egg The pavilion is a structure that is sheathed by the environment. When it rains the water runs by the joints falling to the ones below it until it drips at the front and the back. While during sunset the collaboration of light and shadows forms a unique atmosphere within the pavilion. The model of this pavilion appeared in an exhibition at DesignMarch 2012; an annual design festival, in Reykjavík’s city hall.

Birds-eye-view of KlambratĂşn displaying how individuals have begun to form non-organized paths by living their everyday life within the park. The new paths are formed my constant usage by the individuals inhabitating the space rather then an attempt to organize the space by authorities.

Final Thesis 6. semester -the individual within the urban space In my final thesis I ponder the position of the individual in the public space. Does he have a free will, and does he have the power to influence his surroundings? First I researched how the authorities manipulate the individual in the city to have a control over the public space. Man uses systematic methods to make sense of its environment to increase its efficiency and his ability to calculate actions in the space. The punctual everyday life in a society is viewed throught the eyes of Michel de Certeau and Henri Lefebvre. A individual is willing to accept the restrictions to its freedom as long as it restricts the freedom of others as well. It increases his ability to anticipate the actions of others as well as it keeps him save from a deviant behavior. Then I researched what powers the individual has within the controlled urban space. I briefly review Chantal Mouffe’s The Democratic Paradox and discuss the position of an individual within a democratic society. Subsequently I discuss the resistance of individuals the punctual urban environment, again using de Certeau’s and Lefebvre’s writings. From there I ponder the involvement of individuals within the society, via Niklas Luhmann and Patrik Schumacher. I discuss an autopoetic society and Reykjavík’s attempt to involve the citizens in the creation of the urban environment. And finally I discuss how individuals have a direct effect on their surroundings just by inhabitating it and engaging in everyday life. Then I study two cases from Reykjavík from that perspective.

Arnar Sigurjonsson portfolio London  

Architecture portfolio by Arnar Sigurjonsson

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