The Retreat at Blue Lagoon Iceland offers “a better understanding of nature”

Design Group Italia chief design officer Sigurdur Thorsteinsson explains how The Retreat at Blue Lagoon Iceland immerses guests in nature in this video produced by Dezeen for the AHEAD awards.

The 62-room resort hotel is embedded in the lava formations and turquoise geothermal pools of Iceland's Blue Lagoon complex, which is situated within the UNESCO Global Geopark.

The Retreat at Blue Lagoon Iceland was awarded in the Resort Hotel category at the AHEAD Europe hospitality awards, which took place in London in November.

Design Group Italia handled the project's interiors, in collaboration with Icelandic firm Basalt Architects who were responsible for the architecture of the resort.


"The brief here was to make something that would fit very well into nature" explains Thorsteinsson in the video interview, which was shot by Dezeen at White City House in London on the day of the AHEAD Europe ceremony.

"We wanted basically to have continuity between nature, the interior and exterior," he continued.

The interiors of the resort feature colours and materials that reference the striking landscape of lava, vivid green moss and bright blue water that surround the Blue Lagoon complex.

"We have very tactile surfaces," said Thorsteinsson. "We brought lava blocks into the building, and we treated it as a building material or as a furniture material."

Thorsteinsson stated that the resort has been designed to offer guests an experience of tranquility and isolation from the outside world.

"When you come to the hotel, this world opens up to you, a bit otherworldly almost," he said. "When you enter the building, you're passing into a sanctuary."

The centrepiece of the hotel is its spa, which offers a series of indoor and outdoor baths and treatments that make use of the site's mineral-rich geothermal waters and naturally occurring materials, including silica and algae.

Foster, BIG and Grimshaw reveal designs for 2020 Dubai Expo pavilions

Foster + PartnersBIG and Grimshaw Architects have won a competition to design a trio of pavilions for the 2020 Expo, which will be held in Dubai.


The three firms saw off competition from 10 other entrants to the global competition for the pavilions, which will form the centrepiece for the 438-hectare Expo site in Jebel Ali – a port town located between Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

The title for the Expo is Connecting Minds, Creating the Future and architects were asked to submit proposals under the festival's three core themes: Mobility, Sustainability and Opportunity.

A series of satellite dish-shaped structures by Grimshaw Architects will form the Sustainability Pavilion

Danish firm BIG has been awarded the Opportunity Pavilion, London firm Foster + Partners the Mobility Pavilion and fellow London studio Grimshaw Architects the Sustainability Pavilion.


Zaha Hadid Architects to design concert hall for Ural Philharmonic Orchestra

Zaha Hadid Architects to design concert hall for Ural Philharmonic Orchestra

Zaha Hadid Architects has won a competition to design the Sverdlovsk Philharmonic Concert Hall in Yekaterinburg, Russia.

Designed as a new home for the Ural Philharmonic Orchestra, the venue will contain a 1,600-seat concert hall and a smaller 400-seat chamber-music hall.

The two concert halls will be suspended within the steel structure of the building's roof, which takes its form from the shape of sound waves.

"Echoing the physical aspects of sound waves, the design of the new philharmonic concert hall is based on the properties of musical sound resonance creating wave vibrations in a continuous smooth surface," said Zaha Hadid Architects.

"The design re-interprets these physical acoustic properties to define spaces for the auditoria that are suspended within the canopy, appearing to float above the new civic plaza that is both the lobby of the Philharmonic Concert Hall and an enclosed urban square."

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Julia Lohmann brings seaweed pavilion to Davos as climate-change warning

Designer Julia Lohmann's Department of Seaweed is showing a pavilion made of kelp and rattan at the World Economic Forum conference in Davos, where world leaders have met this week.


Called Hidaka Ohmu, the organically shaped pavilion is formed from semi-translucent panels of a large seaweed – or macroalgae – called kelp, laid over a rattan frame.

The kelp is treated to remain flexible so that it can be stretched like leather.

It is installed against a window in the conference centre, and is designed to appears like it is growing out of it. A series of nodules protrude from its roof, with others attached further along the glass window.

The Davos pavilion draws on the sinuous Oki Naganode work that Lohmann installed at London's V&A Museum in 2013, which was also made from seaweed panels stretched over a rattan structure.

Visitors can enter the Davos pavilion through an opening in its side, to sit on a bench inside that has views of the snowy Swiss landscape outside.



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