Anchor of the Plates envisioned by 00Group bridges vast tectonic plates in Iceland

A pair of monumental towers are linked by a delicate ropeway to anchor two tectonic plates, forming this landmark observation tower conceptualised by Chinese studio 00Group.

by Jincy IypePublished on : Jul 13, 2021

Shanghai-based design studio, 00Group, has unveiled a powerful proposal for a new landmark for Iceland, called the Anchor of the Plates, where a pair of scythe-like monumental towers surge upwards from vogagjá – a majestic ground fissure resulting from seismic activity. The two ‘anchors’ celebrate the raw and fey Icelandic landscape, connected by a rope bridge that crosses and overlooks the grand crevice breathing underneath.

02 mins watch A pair of monumental towers connected by a delicate ropeway surge upwards from vogagjá in Iceland, a majestic ground fissure resulting from seismic activity | Anchor of the Plates by 00Group | STIRworld
A pair of monumental towers connected by a delicate ropeway surge upwards from vogagjá in Iceland, a majestic ground fissure resulting from seismic activity Video: Courtesy of 00Group

The Anchor of the Plates is articulated by the site’s unique topography, home to old bathing places hidden within naturally occurring fissures and caves of Northern Iceland, where the ground cracks open to reveal a mysterious domain composed of stones. The ambitious proposal was imagined for a competition organised last year by Bee Breeders, called Iceland Cave Tower, which called for a viewing tower paired with a small visitor centre, where one could rest before visiting mysterious caves nearby.

The Anchor of the Plates imagined by 00Group is articulated by the site’s unique topography | Anchor of the Plates by 00Group | STIRworld
The Anchor of the Plates imagined by 00Group is articulated by the site’s unique topography Image: Courtesy of 00Group

Located near Grjótagjá (a collection of three small caves), the site is literally the boundary of Eurasian and North American tectonic plates, with a gaping fissure running between them. “In this special place, we hope that the buildings become ships and anchors, pulling the gradually separated continents, forming a sense of beautiful conflict between the vast land and the tiny humans existing on it,” shares 00Group’s core team formed by architects Jing Xu, Gang Liu and Sizhuo Gao.

The site is literally the boundary of Eurasian and North American tectonic plates | Anchor of the Plates by 00Group | STIRworld
The site is literally the boundary of Eurasian and North American tectonic plates Image: Courtesy of 00Group

The imaginary architecture is both subtle and powerful and seeks to emphasise motion while being stationary, similar to the movement and tension generated by the splitting landscape. The scheme also represents the power (and damage) of human intervention on raw, untouched nature – the giant monoliths and the gentle, daring bridge that literally anchors the shifting of the two immense tectonic plates.

Story narrative | Anchor of the Plates by 00Group | STIRworld
Story narrative Image: Courtesy of 00Group

The anchors are dressed in dark stone and light metal, intending to strike a contrast between the hefty nature of the landmark architecture and the fleeting nature of human lives on earth. A murky grey tone, close to the site’s primitive ground was adopted to make the structure grow out of the Icelandic landscape.

A skinny ropeway connects the two volumes made of dark stone and light metal | Anchor of the Plates by 00Group | STIRworld
A skinny ropeway connects the two volumes made of dark stone and light metal Image: Courtesy of 00Group

On one side of the crack rests the “boat” which forms the visitor centre. The structural anchor sits on the other side, serving as “a spiritual guide to the destination,” the Chinese studio explains. Connecting the two volumes is a skinny ropeway that references the delicate machinery of the modern Industrial age. As the fissure’s size increases, a system of gears linked to the interiors will adjust the distance automatically. The insides of the observation tower are envisioned with “modern materials and technical displays” that reveal data and information about the site and the ever-expanding fissure it is secured upon.

The insides of the observation tower are envisioned with “modern materials and technical displays” | Anchor of the Plates by 00Group | STIRworld
The insides of the observation tower are envisioned with “modern materials and technical displays” Image: Courtesy of 00Group

The rocky massing also references the naturally unrestrained landforms of Iceland, while the interior design takes on a tech-savvy, modern-day cave aesthetic. Sunlight and scenery flow between and tread the edges of the cracked openings, as visitors are encouraged to sit upon warm stairs, immersing themselves in tours and talks that bear witness to the significance of the natural fissure. These steps lead up to the observation deck at the back of the boat, where a 360-degree panoramic view of the mountain peak is provided. The swaying ropeway going across the fissure gives an ethereal, thrilling, and sensitive experience of the site, with the two towers looming and emanating energy at a distance.

  • Site Plan | Anchor of the Plates by 00Group | STIRworld
    Site Plan Image: Courtesy of 00Group
  • Plans | Anchor of the Plates by 00Group | STIRworld
    Plans Image: Courtesy of 00Group

“Our team is motivated to design everything from the origin – 0 – exploring contemporary design in a digital realm, based on oriental aesthetics. There is nothing, and therefore there is space for growth; a fertile ground zero,” says 00Group, explaining their unique name.  

  • Section | Anchor of the Plates by 00Group | STIRworld
    Section Image: Courtesy of 00Group
  • Exploded axonometric diagram | Anchor of the Plates by 00Group | STIRworld
    Exploded axonometric diagram Image: Courtesy of 00Group

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