Sesseljuhús in Sólheimar, Iceland by ASK Architect, 2002

The following text and images are by ASK Architect for their design of Sesseljuhús in Sólheimar, Iceland.

Sesseljuhús is a house built at Sólheimar in Iceland in commemoration of Sesselja Hreindís Sigmundsdóttir. The building will be taken into use on July the 5th 2002, on what would have been Sesselja's 100th birthday. Sesselja was the founder of Sólheimar, she established a children's home and organic farm there in 1930. Now, over 70 years later, Sólheimar is a thriving eco-village with approximately 100 inhabitants.

Over the last 15 years various environmentally friendly buildings have been constructed at Sólheimar. Sesseljuhús is by far the largest and most challenging project undertaken so far. The house will function as an "eco-center" providing a venue for conferences, meetings and educational courses regarding the environment. The house will operate in close cooperation with other ecological entities currently managed at Sólheimar, entities that include a forestry program, an organic nursery and gardening center, a recycling program, a farm and an organic restaurant.

The building is 840 square meters and consists of four interconnected parts: an auditorium for conferences and meetings; a lounge-style central atrium supplied with equipment that shows the energy use inside the building; an educational area consisting of a library, a computer center and an office in addition to class- or meeting rooms; showroom for displays and poster board presentations.

During its design, great care was taken to choose only environmentally friendly building materials. The building's structure consists of a timber frame construction, topped with a sod roof. The insulation of the walls and floors is made of natural sheep's wool while the roof is insulated with paper. The outdoor cladding is made from driftwood originating in Siberia, carried to Iceland by the ocean's currents. Interior surfaces consist of plywood, Icelandic lark, natural graystone, linoleum and recycled materials.

The building's air-ventilation system is natural. Fresh air is channeled under the building by a flow induced by temperature differences between the outside environs and the inside of the building, entering through ducts in the floor and leaving the building through vents on the roof.
All energy used in the building 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 Sólheimar's own borehole. Future plans include the installation of a windmill.