Those who remember Reykjavik in the 20’s and 30’s, recall that sometimes on calm winter days, the smoke from the chimneys would produce a dark cloud that would settle over the city with reduced visibility. Despite this oppressive atmosphere, a plan was drawn up to harness the heat known to be trapped in the ground under the city.
In the following years, a number of wells were drilled and today there are as many as 50 within the city limits. The deepest are 2 km. deep bringing up to 80°C hot water to the surface.
In 1990 the Reykjavík Geothermal Heating Authority launched an open competition on housing the hot water wells. Out of over 80 entries the proposal for this building was selected. These structures stand as a token to the utilization of the natural resources within the city limits. They also have become a part of the image of the city.
The building is a 14 m2 steel structure (3 by 6.5 meters) constructed of two stainless steel clad curvilinear walls separated by a door at each end. The buildings are assembled at a workshop off site and moved in one piece, to the hot water wells. The buildings house the mechanism on top of the well, which pumps the water to a central control from where it is distributed throughout the city.
A vertical element hanging from the roof to the side of the building contains the air-conditioning system for the machinery, taking air from the top forcing it down to the floor, creating a circulation of air, cooling the motor and creating over pressure to avoid dust from getting inside and damaging the motor system.
Beside the air-conditioning element a pipe is sticking out from the wall letting the steam created by the boiling water, out into the air. In a subtle way this refers to the original name of the city. Reykjavik literally means smoke-bay and the name was given by settlers, mistaking the steam for smoke.