From the smoking eart, rise black castles; their twisted towers clawing to rip free from the earth. This is the home of myth, the home of Gryla and her sons, the place where Satan fell to earth. These are the Black Lava Fields of Dimmuborgir, a place of myth and legends, a place where man meets nature. Our concept accentuates the mystery of the site, capturing and contrasting the intersection of the built and unbuilt landscape.
Turning from the achingly beautiful view of Lake Myvatin, a visitor starts her journey along the black concrete path winding its way up the rugged slope. On the ridge above, the visitor center rises from twisted rock, silhouetted against the sky. As she winds her way up, she stops at the switchbacks to read the interpretive signs telling of this otherworldly place, its creation and its cultural legacy. Entering Dimmuborgir happens on both the physical and spiritual plane; it is a shift into a rare and unique landscape but also a shift between reality and myth, a journey from earth to sky.
In front of her a low wall cuts a subtle horizon across her view, bisecting earth and sky. Enveloped in stark beauty; this is a moment to savor, to commit to memory. As she steps through a break in the low wall, the panorama opens before her. Across her view the sky reaches down to touch the black lava towers that emerge from twisted ravines and cling to shattered ridgelines. Before her, held between the touch of earth and sky the black castle beckons to her. Sitting at the edge of the plateau, the building links earth and sky with its simple geometric form carved away like the lava forms that surround it.
The concept strives to shape the journey through the site for all visitors; to emphasize, amplify and elucidate the multi-faceted experience. The visitor center, is materially of the earth yet seeks to resist delineation between building and landscape, between myth and reality. Our interventions on the site bring visitors into contact with the ethos of Dimmuborgir, provide cultural context for deepening meaning and guide them to new perspectives both physical and mythic.
Beyond the visitors’ center the journey continues into places that delve deeply into the earth and deeper into the myth. From a final overlook above the lava field, a path descends into the tortuous ravines. At the bottom, surrounded by lava towers and formations an amphitheatre seems cut from the native rock. It holds to the twist of the ravine walls, with steps reaching up into crevices and massive rocks emerging from its surface. It is here that visitors receive the story of myth and place before entering twisted realm of Dimmuborgir, the home of Gryla and her sons.
In Collaboration with RHAA Landscape Architects