Two communities have become one, at least symbolically, thanks to a spectacular new civic structure in the Faroe Islands. The new town hall for the people of Eysturkommuna both blends into the green, hilly landscape and rises out of it, forming a grass-covered bridge for locals to cross the river underneath.
Sitting around halfway between Norway and Iceland, the Faroe Islands is a archipelago defined by its rugged landscapes and abundant waterways. This is very much true for the region of Eysturkommuna, home to a population of around 2,000 across five different settlements.
A waterway running through the Eysturkommuna village of Norðragøta once served as a gathering place for events and special occasions, though the arrival of the fishing industry and its large factory has recently changed the landscape.
The newly completed Eysturkommuna Town Hall, by Danish architecture firm Henning Larsen, is an effort to recapture some of the community spirit by taking a contemporary approach to the traditional building techniques of the region.
"Having difficulties distinguishing where the landscape ends and the building begins is a central theme in traditional Faroese architecture," Ósbjørn Jacobsen, Partner and Lead Design Architect at Henning Larsen, explains. "The town hall design was driven by the notion of this blurred line, and as such a take on modern architecture in the Faroe Islands."
Construction began in 2015, and the 700 sq m (7,500 sq ft) town hall has now opened its doors for municipal matters. The space centers around a glass floor opening with views of the water running underneath, surrounded by a circular table so that no one person sits at the end and all are equal. This layout is inspired by the kivas, the ceremonial chambers of the Pueblo Native Americans.
But the hall is designed to do more than serve as a base for local governance. The grassy pedestrian bridge that is its roof connects with existing pathways on either side of the river, while a landscaped space on one side offers a sheltered gathering space for picnics and swimming.
Adding to the attraction, and hopefully drawing more to the area, is an exterior light and sound installation designed by artist Jens Ladekarl Thomsen. Speakers are built into the wooden cladding of the building and play sounds inspired by the local society and nature, meant to create an impression that the house speaks."
Floodlight projectors, meanwhile, are fixed to the underside of the building and light up it and the river water flowing underneath. The round window in the floor provides a view to this illuminated river, while at the same time creating a shimmering projection of the flowing water on the ceiling inside.
With the town hall complete, local authorities are now moving ahead with other buildings as part of a wider plan to re-energize public life in the heart of Norðragøta.
Source: Henning Larsen
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