Tomas Sæmundsson Centre
Tomas Sæmundsson’s 200 years anniversary will be commemorated in 2007 with lectures, symposia, books and articles about his life and work, and his influence in the Icelandic history. We are happy to contribute to this commemoration with a proposal on how to mark his position in a more permanent way, with a building in Rangarvallasysla, where he was born and where he died at the age of 34.
The building we have proposed is composed of two parts: A visitors centre, with a small museum and lecture space; and a small research centre, with working facilities and accommodation for one person.
By placing the centre in Rangarvallasysla, according to the wishes of our clients, we felt that it was important to create a connection to the environment where Tomas Sæmundsson spent most of his life. Our attention was drawn towards two places in Rangarvallasysla that were important in his life; Kufholl, where he was born and Breidabolsstadur, where he spent the last years of his life. These places are very different. One is in a flat river delta close to Markarfljot and the other one is in a hillside close to Hvolsvollur and the mountain Thrihyrningur. Having two different functions to deal with, we decided to divide them between the two places. The research centre is placed at Kufholl and the visitors centre is placed at Breidabolsstadur. The two parts each consist of a main space and an entrance space. The main spaces are positioned on the same level above the ground, facing each other. In that way one, is able to obtain a physical connection to two important places in the area, as well as a mental connection between the two.
The Research Centre
The part of the Tomas Sæmundsson Centre that is devoted to research has the form of a tower. The tower is, in our minds, a good metaphor for the life he lived – his upright attitude towards the matters he was concerned of, and the way he approached the issues he dealt with, in the spirit of the enlightenment movement. It also gives a resonance to the function itself; research – an effort to create overview and provide new perspectives for future scholars of the Tomas Sæmundsson Centre.
The building consists of two spaces, as mentioned previously. The entrance space is a staircase taking the visitor up to the working and living area, 14 meters above the ground. The working area will be provided with all the necessary equipment for research, basic sanitary facilities and a small sleeping mezzanine on top of it. The working space can occupy a small group of researchers working there on a daily basis, or a single person on a more permanent basis.
The Visitor Centre
The Visitor Centre is placed in a slope on the west side of the farmhouses at Breidabolsstadur. In contrast to the research centre, it is placed partly inside the terrain in order not to take too much attention from the existing buildings on the site. The terrain - or the earth - is commonly used as a metaphor for the past, which suits the museum function quite well. The form of the visitors centre is similar to the research centre, but instead of having a vertical configuration, we have chosen to place it horizontally, partly buried in the landscape, establishing a connection to the past and Sæmundsson’s final journey.