Yesterday’s announcement of an 160 million ISK grant brings the dream of constructing a viewing platform on the cliff edge of Bolafjall mountain, one step closer to realisation. Once complete this pioneering architectural project will provide visitors with expansive views over Ísafjörður, Jökulfjörður and perhaps even Greenland on a clear day.
The Bolafjall project will be the greatest recipient of the National Plan for the Development of Infrastructure and the Construction Fund for Tourist Sites’ grants for sites and routes set to be completed by 2022. This announcement was a huge breakthrough for the architects behind the proposed viewing platform as the project is to be financed purely through public funds. “We’re thrilled” says Shruthi Basappa, a founding partner at Sei Studio, the architectural firm behind the design. With contractors selected in recent months, construction can now begin on the Westfjords clifftop.
Whilst the awe-inspiring vistas from 638-metres-high Bolafjall have been drawing a moderate number of visitors for some years, the viewing platform hopes to attract an influx of tourists into a somewhat under-appreciated corner of Iceland. What’s more, the project will improve safety for visitors to the area, providing a controlled environment in which to enjoy the views. “It’s a crucial part of a larger vision for tourism infrastructure in the region and we believe that architects have a huge responsibility and role in realising that,” explains Shruthi.
The design for the viewing platform was the result of a closed competition held in 2018 and won by Sei Studio in collaboration with landscape architects, Landmotun. Sei Studio’s vision for the project has also been recognised by the wider architectural community in Europe. The company is currently displaying its designs for Bolafjall in Moscow at the Public Architecture – Future for Europe Exhibition and has been invited to appear in the upcoming Venice Architectural Biennale.
Environmental concerns were central both to assessing the feasibility of the project and to coming up with the final architectural design of the viewing platform, stresses Shruthi. As the Bolungarvík region is one of the oldest parts of Iceland in terms of geology, huge care was taken to minimise the impact on the structural integrity of the cliff, meaning the platform will only be supported by around 60 holds in the cliff face. The company also utilised extensive drone footage to ensure the designs appropriately reflected the sensitive nature of Iceland’s landscapes.
Sei Studio has also worked hard to optimise the attraction’s accessibility, allowing for convenient passing points along the walkway and including wheelchair ramps in their design, a fact the firm is very proud of.
If all goes to plan, visitors to the Westfjords won’t have too long to wait before they can enjoy the spectacular views from the top of Bolafjall, as the project is set for completion by October 2021.
Correction: A previous version of this article described the viewing platform as the westernmost in Europe, this is incorrect.
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