Document Type

Thesis Prep




Fall 2018


geological force, lava, architecture, artificial landscapes, Iceland, Hekla site, stratigraphy






The core of this project is the idea of humankind as a geological force. By imagining the active ground in relation to the creation of new ground and environment, this thesis seeks to reclaim the formal language of the geological through volcanism. As we create a series of spaces within this new ground, using lava as our natural tool for architecture, the goal is to create architecture and landscape that reconciles the geological and the biological, merging the natural and the artificial. Architecture can be formed naturally, like a stone built over time, through sedimentation and erosion. This idea of architecture as natural processes is applied to volcanism, where architecture and artificial landscapes can be formed through eruption and flow of molten ground.

Iceland is the optimal site for the thesis because of its unique geological and geographical characteristics. Hekla is the specific site since it is the most active volcano in Iceland, erupting every 10-15 years on average. Research into the scale and direction of past eruptions allows a prediction of the amount and directionality of future eruptions: these are digitally simulated using Realflow.

Using the axis derived from the orientation of Hekla and the location of its craters, retaining walls are placed to guide lava in the direction we desire. As lava from several eruptions flows against the walls, it becomes part of the wall, creating two sides with drastically contrasting typologies. These retaining walls serve as hiking paths, continuing up the mountain and around the crater, reaching higher than the peak and becoming the new mountaintop with a naked-eye observatory.

As the lava flows down along the wall, it collects in a destination where lava layers over time, creating a space. At this destination, lava flows around and over these wooden structures that intersect with the wall, burning the thick surface layer of the wood as it structures and burnt remnants of wood are removed once the cooling hollowed blackened cavities and charred walls of basaltic lava that show the stratigraphy of each lava flow.

Additional Information

Thesis Prep Advisors:

Daniele Profeta

Ted Brown

Julia Czerniak


Local Input

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.

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