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 Keflavik 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.
K64 proposes an incremental strategy to steer the long-term transformation of the Suðurnes peninsula. To set the path for sustainable growth, focus areas for development 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 neighbourhood 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.
To sustain the K64 initiative over time, urban design, landscape and mobility strategies intertwine in an ecosystem that connects, protects, and enhances while supporting activity and population and employment growth. It fosters stronger synergies between the economic and social fabrics of the peninsula.
The urban framework is preventing sprawl by proposing compact urban development anchored on the existing build-up context. It establishes a distinct spatial logic for airport related activities around the airport, while it strives for the mixing of uses as a development principle. 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 outdoor activities and cycling networks. Increased public transport services – including a peninsula wide DRT offer – and resilient transport networks improve the local connectivity between the urban nodes. A high-speed connection to Reykjavík through a KRL line embeds the archipelago into the capital’s mobility system.
The energy 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.
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 master plan 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.” Source by KCAP.
Location: Keflavík, Iceland
Landscape: Felixx Landscape Architects & Planners
Real estate development: WSP
Mobility and transport planning: MIC-HUB
Consulting economy, mobility and urban planning: VSO Consulting, Reykjavík
Cargo strategy: Buck Consultants International, Nijmegen/The Hague
Climate and aviation mitigation and energy strategy: Buro Happold
Place branding: Base Design
Consulting airport area master planning: Maurits Schaafsma
Consulting urban planning and landscape architect: Kanon Arkitektar
Client: Kadeco (Keflavík Airport Development Company)
Program: Strategic masterplan for the development of the Keflavík Airport Area