The Guesthouse Nýp at Skarðsströnd is situated on a former sheep farm overlooking the UNESCO World Heritage Breiðafjörður Nature Reserve in western Iceland. Originally constructed as a farmhouse in 1936, the building was deserted in the 1970s, slowly falling into disrepair before the owners eventually began rebuilding in 2001. Since 2006, it has come to be known as a cultural hub of sorts, playing host to various exhibitions, lectures, courses and workshops.
Our brief was to conceive a design that would make better use of the existing facilities, allowing for more multifunctional spaces for the Nýp’s various cultural activities. This not only involved renovating the main house, but also rebuilding and enlarging the adjoining barn in order to rehouse the guesthouse–first opened as two rooms in the main house in 2013–from the main house to the extension.
Staying true to Nýp’s ethos of sustainability and slow tourism, we took a vernacular approach with a design based on local turf homes and a gradual renovation that focused on restoring and reinterpreting historical features while making full use of local labour, techniques and materials such as stone-turf retaining walls and tiles handmade from local clay.