When looking at a country like Iceland, where the stunning power of natural beauties takes over, it is not simple to design a dramatic yet respectful hotel project that is capable to fully integrate into the environment. California-based Minarc architecture studio fulfilled the task by designing the Ion Hotel. Nestled into the slopes of Mt. Hengill,the Ion sits perched atop a series of high-seat pillars, an homage to Iceland's first settler, Ingolfur Arnarson, who en-route to Iceland in the year 874 threw his high-seat pillars overboard and sailed to where the gods brought them ashore. Like an enormous basalt post pile, with its black, lava-like exterior emerging from the mountainside, the new wing appears suspended, as if floating on the cloud of geothermal steam that surrounds it.
With its use of natural light, outdoor living spaces and panoramic views of the environs, this design hotel creates a unique sense of oneness, where the boundaries of walls seem to part and beckon nature inside. Inspired by the environmental surroundings, Ion incorporates innovative materials, sustainable practices, and the natural features of Iceland into its design. Ion is surrounded by hot springs, which provide geothermal hot water and energy. The prefabricated, panelized building system exceeds environmentally safe building standards. Driftwood and other natural materials are used extensively in furniture throughout the hotel. Beds and chairs are built from recycled materials; mirrors are framed with indigenous Birchwood. Lights made of lava and found-wood illuminate the rooms. The result is a mix amid innovation and Icelandic tradition that brings the Ion a unique character: every single detail pays homage to the natural beauties of the country, enhancing – at the same time – a luxurious comfortable hotel experience.
PHOTO COURTESY: Art Gray, Torfi Agnaon, Ragnar Th. Sigurdsson