Honourable Mention, Greenhouse Restaurant

Mývatn, Iceland 

Welcome to Mývatn Windows, a unique restaurant that sits between a greenhouse and the spectacular landscape of Mývatn Natural Baths, Hverfjall volcano and lake Mývatn in the distance.


A green corridor leads the visitor from the parking to the restaurant. It follows the edge of the site down the natural slope, passing fields of moss covered volcanic rocks, capturing a view into the greenhouse and the birch tree gardens sheltered within the walls of the restaurant building beyond. This corridor also serves as a connection to the greenhouse service access and its future extensions.

Entering the restaurant, a foyer serves as a buffer zone as the visitor moves from the harsh exterior climate to the comfortable interior. The stairs in the adjacent garden give access to the rooftop observation deck. The ecological concept for the greenhouse restaurant is a transparent circular production process from planting, farming and processing to eating fresh fruit and vegetable produce in the restaurant.

Two large-scale planes of polycarbonate on a steel structure enclose the restaurant and aim to distinguish it as the principal building. The polycarbonate was chosen to form a physical unity and coherency with the greenhouse. Furthermore, its semi-transparency gives the building a sense of lightness within the landscape.


1. The rooftop observation deck over the restaurant’s green roof offers a 360 view of the landscape and pitched roofscape of the greenhouses.

2. Glulam timber truss structure with polycarbonate ceiling panels to diffuse light.

3. Two large-scale planes of polycarbonate on a steel structure enclose the restaurant. Their semi-transparency gives the building a sense of lightness in the landscape.

4. Prefabricated timber wall panels insulate the building beneath the polycarbonate cladding.

5. The restaurant has windows on all sides, which connect the restaurant visually and physically to the interior space of the greenhouse, the birch tree gardens and the surrounding landscape.

6. A mirror wall facing the main window reflects the view within the restaurant, enhancing the visitor’s sense of being immersed in the landscape through visual transparency. 

7. Two birch tree gardens protected from the extreme climate conditions are formed between the polycarbonate walls planes enclosing the restaurant. These gardens are an educational gesture to the national reforestation program to re-establish forests in up to 25% of the country’s area.

8. The restaurant building is raised off the ground to touch the landscape in the lightest possible way. Steel beams sitting on concrete piles support the prefabricated structural timber floor panels.


The architectural concept for the restaurant takes the idea of lightness and transparency of the greenhouse structure as a departing point. The restaurant has windows on all sides. Two glass openings in a mirrored wall look through the multifunctional hall and kitchen and act as windows between the restaurant and greenhouse. The visitor can see the preparation of the food, the seating area within the greenhouse and the planting area beyond.

A single long window opening in the facade gestures the vastness of the endless landscape. Seated along this window, the visitor has an undisrupted view of the landscape.

The design language of the greenhouse is translated into the exposed structure and aesthetic of the lightweight glulam trusses and polycarbonate ceiling of the restaurant. Contrary the exterior, the timber truss structure adapts to the human scale. Polycarbonate ceiling panels diffuse soft light into the restaurant while their form reinterprets the shape and pattern of the greenhouse roof.

After proceeding through the entry foyer, the restaurant has a bar that welcomes guests before being seated. The principal seating area is centralised along the main window to the landscape, while a private seating area for larger gatherings is located at the far end, looking out at the birch tree garden.

The functional block hosts all essential services, including the staff room, sanitary block and the administration office. Its two openings through the multifunctional hall and kitchen establish important visual and physical connections between the restaurant and greenhouse.


  • All building modules use the geothermal energy from the local Bjarnarflag Geothermal Power Station. A heat exchanger in the technical room transfers this heat to the water collected on site. It supports the underfloor heating system in the restaurant, root level heating and the radiators in the greenhouse.
  • Rainwater is collected from all the roofs and directed to tanks in the space beneath the greenhouse. This water is then filtered and stored so that it can be used for the greenhouse irrigation, the kitchen and sanitary areas.
  • Polycarbonate was chosen for its structural durability, low maintenance and insulation in the harsh Icelandic climate. It diffuses the light, reducing direct sunlight and therefore helps the plants grow faster. 
  • Green roofs cover the restaurant and functional block to increase the building’s green footprint and act as a stormwater management system.

Architekt: Jens Brinkmann
Mitarbeit: Nicole Salfatis Sadka, Chiara Sanguin, Emily Pearce
Renders: Thomas Saint-Guillain

United Architektur BDA
Wichertstraße 2
10439 Berlin

E: office@unitedarchitektur.com
T: +49 (0) 30 308 740 26


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