The design can make positive change in the world: 2013 SPARK Award for Innovative Net-Zero Work

The design can make positive change in the world, believes SPARK, a community of designers and creative people, bound together by desire to initiate positive design-led change by highlighting the best new ideas and solutions. The SPARK competition pays tribute to work that breaks new ground by improving the quality of life while conserving Earth’s limited resources. Every year SPARK awards eco-friendly, recycled materials and sustainable practices. This year the prestigious 2013 SPARK Award for Innovative Net-Zero Work went to ION Luxury Adventure Hotel in Iceland and Minarc, an award-winning design firm dedicated to exploring new efficiencies in building and design.

This year the SPARK>Spaces EcoDesign category placed a special emphasis on the Zero Energy challenge, which is quickly becoming a sought after ideal for many buildings around the globe. Judging stressed the degree to which entries employed recycling, re-use, restorative, revitalization and waste disposal solutions into their designs.

“This comprehensive undertaking required a minimalist design reflective of the region’s natural beauty, to be executed with strict consideration to the environment. In addition, our goal was to achieve a new expression of luxury—one that is less conspicuous, more intimate, and above all eco-responsive,” said Minarc co-principal Erla Dögg Ingjaldsdóttir.

The hotel incorporates innovative materials, sustainable practices, and the natural features of Iceland. An extensive use of repurposed materials—driftwood, lava, recycled rubber—are noticeable throughout the hotel, reflecting a commitment to environmental integrity. Lights and furniture in the restaurant are all reclaimed from previous use at the hotel. The RUBBiSH sink, an original design element is constructed from recycled rubber.

Most notable is the prefabricated building system used for the new extension, developed by Minarc principals Tryggvi Thorsteinsson and Ingjaldsdóttir, which achieves both aesthetic and environmental objectives. Thorsteinsson explains, “It is a high-performance system that maximizes energy efficiency in a reduced carbon footprint. The panels incorporate high quality, off-the-shelf sustainable materials that have been researched, tested and selected to meet stringent quality specifications. The clean, stark panel surface is as visually dramatic as the natural Icelandic surroundings.”

Surrounding the hotel is an abundance of natural hot springs that provides guest rooms with clean, energy-efficient geothermal heating and hot water. A unique three-filter process cleans grey water (from showers, sinks and hot tub), and returns it for use on the landscape.

With its extensive use of outdoor living spaces, and floor-to-ceiling windows that capture the natural light while providing panoramic views of the environs, the wall of the ION hotel seem to part and beckon nature inside.

The SPARK competitions are open to all designers, including students (in SPARK>Concept). Learn more.