Studio Class at Auburn University
Studio Class at Auburn University

The Image of Nostalgia – Viðey Film Institute

This project was developed by Yin To TSANG as a student from The Bartlett School of Architecture and was submited to the WAS awards 2017 under the Facilities category.

The project sets out to embody the Icelandic culture of nostalgia and desolation, which is highly prevalent within the Icelandic cinema. By adapting the theory of local filmmaking, I explore how architectural space with narrative capacity can be constructed in Iceland.

A film school is proposed on the abandoned island, Viðey, once a vibrant port of Reykjavík. It is a film school to continue the tradition of Icelandic cinema, to negotiate between manmade and nature, universal technology and locality, city and countryside; in short, a film school of nostalgia. Architecture of nostalgia is not one that looks back, but one that ‘has the capacity to cultivate a resistant, identity-giving culture while at the same time having discreet recourse to universal technique’ (Frampton, 1983)

Played out in a carved out basalt quarry, the spaces unfold into a rich and atmospheric space for study and contemplation. Instead of building on the site, the site is transformed to create spaces and narratives, inspired by a distinguished character of Icelandic cinema — to interiorise landscape. Basalt columns quarried are reused as structural elements. Delicate metal elements are inserted into the basalt formation carefully to established a dialogue between man and nature, modernity and locality. The programs of the film school include an amphitheatre carved from the basalt formation, a library ‘floating’ among a forest of basalt columns, a filming studio, a sound recording studio and a number of post-production suites and classrooms.