Camp Norðurljós is an Icelandic travel destination for watching the Northern Lights. But it’s not for luxury tourists. Instead, our design pares down the sky-gazing experience to its elemental essence.

Guests stay in one of ten movable pods, made of large concrete pipes, thickly insulated and lined with cork. Guests enter their private pod through a metal end wall and pass between a densely packed mud room and toilet. At the other end, a triple-glazed lens of low-iron glass tilts in to provide an oversized view of the aurora.

In place of furniture, tensioned hammocks serve as comfortable places to watch the sky, sleep, and enjoy the landscape. Warmed by electric radiant heat, the cork lining of the curved interior itself serves as furniture. Unrolled boardwalks tether the pods to the main house and conceal flexible lines for water and geothermal power.

In contrast to the privacy of the pods, the main house is communal—and relatively lavish where the pods are spartan. It houses the camp’s shared amenities (showers, saunas, kitchen, dining room, lounge, and reception) as well as the host family’s dwelling. Half buried in an insulating berm, the main house has an intensive green roof that makes it a literal extension of the landscape. The parking lot and horse stables are a short walk away.

Mývatn, Iceland
3000 s.f.
Year Completed