The Institute of Natural History, designed by Icelandic firm ARKIS, provides a home for the institution responsible for natural resources and land development in Iceland. Arrowstreet provided sustainable design and LEED certification consulting services, including proposing the use of green roofs, permeable pavements, bio-swales, and other measures to maintain the natural hydrologic cycles and systems on the site. The 35,000 square-foot building was the first lab and office building to be built as part of the Urriaholt master plan and provides an artifact archive for flora, fauna, and geologic materials and specimens, and is one of the first buildings of its type in the country to receive BREEAM certification, an international standard for sustainable design and environmental performance.
The master plan for Urridaholt development has received numerous international recognitions and awards for planning and advanced sustainability measures; including the Award of the Boston Society of Architects and the Nordegrio Award. In addition, the master plan was awarded the second prize at the 2007 LivCom Awards.
The Urridaholt master plan is characterized by mixed use development and an emphasis on sustainable development, diversity and respect for both environment and community. Good access to outdoor recreation and pedestrian routes is ensured. Streets are designed to integrate surface drainage systems that have been specially designed to protect the ecology of nearby lake; Urridaholtsvatn.
As one of the first buildings to rise in Urridaholt, the Icelandic Institute of Natural History will mark the entry to the development s business avenue. The building is divided into three parts by two fissures that visually reduce the building mass and communicate the gradual rhythm and human scale of the streetscape prescribed in the masterplan. Moreover, the three part plan figure reflects the composition of an insect body, thereby connecting building form to the Institutes function.