K64 Keflavík Airport Area Masterplan
Located 50 km away from the capital Reykjavík, the Suðurnes peninsula with Keflavík International Airport is Iceland’s most emblematic gateway. Sitting at the crossroads of Europe and North America, home to the Reykjanes UNESCO Global Geopark, the airport area is exceptionally well suited to become one of the leading developments for sustainable innovation in the aviation, energy and technology sectors. Codenamed K64 – for it straddles the 64th parallel north – the Keflavík Airport Area Masterplan aims to be a catalyst for innovating the Icelandic economy. It’s a grand project designed to develop the full potential of this unique territory and explore untapped opportunities in relation to the global challenges of the future. Building on its privileged position at the intersection of the northern Atlantic routes and banking on the Icelandic progressive way of thinking, K64 aims to converge influxes of people, assets and technologies toward a forward-looking environment, specifically designed to foster partnership, creativity and knowledge.
The masterplan has been developed by a multidisciplinary team led by KCAP, including FELIXX, WSP, MIC-HUB, VSO Consulting, Buck Consultants International, Buro Happold, Base Design, Maurits Schaafsma and Kanon Arkitektar.
Spatial and economic masterplan
K64 proposes an incremental strategy to steer the long-term transformation of the Suðurnes peninsula. To set the path for sustainable growth, focus areas are defined that mutually reinforce economic activities and local communities:
1. The aptly named Gateway to Iceland traces a welcoming journey starting from the commercial and visitor amenities of the Airport Forecourt all the way up to the Aðalgata area, a nodal point marking the entrance to the city of Reykjanesbær. Together with the adjacent Diamond Gate logistics hub, Aðalgata is forming a highly dynamic district mixing residential, community and R&D programs.
2. On the southern edge of the airport, Ásbrú is thought to become a campus-like area, fostering aviation activities and R&D, start-up programmes, light industries and most of all an ambitious residential densification, that turns the former NATO settlement into a neighborhood in its own right, a modern take on the cosy, lively village.
3. North of Reykjanesbær, the focus area of Helguvík will do the heavy lifting in terms of eco-industrial development, converting the existing port and manufacturing infrastructures to create a circular-economy environment comprising a construction hub and a Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) facility, with the potential to spearhead energy transition in Iceland and beyond.
This urban framework is preventing sprawl by proposing compact urban development in three clusters anchored on the existing build-up context. It establishes a distinct spatial logic for airport related activities around the airport, supporting both population and employment growth.
Felixx is responsible for the landscape strategy within the masterplan, tying the ambitious economic development of the peninsula to the implementation of Iceland’s national forestation programs. These programs are building on the involvement of local communities, ensuring long-term climate sustainability while enhancing social networks.
The vast landscape that currently separates the clusters will grow into a uniting peninsula park. The landscape strategy takes the concept of afforestation as its basic premise to mitigate the harsh climate conditions and create comfortable conditions that allow for shared programs, outdoor facilities and cycling networks. Resilient transport networks and increased public transport services, including a peninsula wide DRT offer, improve the local connectivity between the urban nodes. A high-speed connection to Reykjavík embeds the archipelago into the capital’s mobility system. The strategy strives for diversification and decarbonisation of local energy systems while generating economic development with innovative solutions for the mid to long term. These spatial strategies are underpinned by economic strategies for industries, knowledge and cargo development to create a resilient and diverse industrial base, develop business opportunities for green and hi-tech activities, and ultimately create an international competitive business destination.
Afforestation as a connecting agent
Landscape identity – Nowadays, Iceland is one of Europe’s least wooded countries, but in ancient times large forests covered the coastline area. The country lost most of its trees more than a thousand years ago, when Viking settlers deforested the area, turning it into agricultural land. The landscape became subject to vast erosion, creating the rough and rocky landscapes we currently know. Although it appears completely natural, the open-view landscape of the Suðurnes peninsula is a result of several centuries of simultaneous human activity and wind action mixed with salt storms.
The creation of this new sculpted landscape is linked to all new developments on the peninsula and functions as a social catalyst for the existing communities to improve their amenities. Mitigation landforms protect bike paths and walking trails from the winds, create public spaces inside urban, shelter public transport hubs. Every individual development contributes to the realization of the new Peninsula Park.
The masterplan went through an intense participatory process with a large group of stakeholders, and has political support by the local and national government. Anouk Kuitenbrouwer, partner at KCAP, states that “working on the spatial and economic masterplan over the past year has been an incredible journey. We hope that the joy and inspiration we have experienced in collaborating as a team and with the many stakeholders translated into a robust plan for this ambitious long-term endeavour.” It will be presented at the upcoming Passenger Terminal Conference in Amsterdam and at MIPIM in Cannes.
Design: Felixx, KCAP
Project Location: Keflavík, Iceland
Typology: Masterplan, infrastructure, afforestation
Design year: 2021-2023
Design team: Michiel van Driessche, Deborah Lambert, Marnix Vink, Cherk ga Leung, Marina Višić, Nadya Nilina, Eduardo Marin Salinas, Shuangyun Chen
Partners: WSP, MIC-HUB, VSO Consulting, Buck Consultants International, Buro Happold, Base Design, Maurits Schaafsma, Kanon Arkitektar, Plomp
Client: Kadeco (Keflavík Airport Development Company)
Visuals and drawings: © KCAP, Felixx, MIC, PLOMP
Felixx Landscape Architects and Planners
Felixx Landscape Architects and Planners is a Rotterdam-based office for proactive landscape architecture founded in 2014. Felixx believes a better world requires a better organization of our environment. The studio is specializez in addressing urgent global challenges with locally embedded design solutions. Their work has a broad international scope and their projects range from spatial research, landscape transformation strategies and masterplans, to public space and product design. The office is named after Felixx – an invented fictional character. A modest hero, Felixx travels the world looking for opportunities to realize happy environments.
KCAP is an international design firm, a team of over 125 people and 25 nationalities who share a common mission. With offices in Rotterdam, Zurich and Shanghai they specialize in urban design, architecture and landscape architecture, taking care of the lifecycle and transformation processes of buildings, neighborhoods and regions. But at heart, they design with a free-thinking state of mind to improve the liveability of urban environments with the human dimension as focus. Together they create conditions for freedom.