As the Faroe Islands capture global attention as a tourist destination, a question lingers: How do the islands open to new visitors without losing a sense of local identity?
Our design for the new Hotel Tórshavn, in the heart of the islands’ capital city, seeks to provide an answer. Balancing public function and private amenities, the 4,500 m2 hotel establishes a new destination for international visitors while connecting channels of activity in the city center. The hotel introduces a public grand foyer and broad staircase that connect two of the busiest pedestrian streets, making the lobby a new conduit for urban life in Tórshavn. As a statement of local identity, the hotel looks to the Faroese landscape to create a new landmark grounded in Faroese nature.
Over thousands of years, distinctive sea caves have formed where the Faroese basalt cliffs meet the North Atlantic. Long a draw for coastal explorers and curious kayakers, these caves emerge in new form through Hotel Tórshavn’s grand foyer, designed as a gesture of public accessibility and a celebration of local roots.
“We’re going back to the original idea of a grand foyer as a way to create street-level identity, and as a passageway for new connections in the city,” Explains Ósbjørn Jacobsen, Partner and Design Director at Henning Larsen’s Faroese studio.
“In our search for a symbol of an open, active venue for the foyer, we took inspiration from the sea caves along the Faroese coast. In a way, you could say our design represents the bedrock of the Faroe Islands, with the city life carving its way into the lower levels of the hotel.”
This characteristic foyer serves Hotel Tórshavn’s function as a community asset. The hotel stands in the heart of Tórshavn, a stone’s throw away from the city’s cultural venues, waterfront and pedestrian shopping district. Establishing an alluring public foyer in this context circulates and amplifies public life in the city center; a new commons for locals and a home for future visitors.
Following the Faroese tourist board’s 2012 commitment to double the country’s number of overnight stays and annual tourism revenue by 2020, the islands’ air- and seaports have routinely broken standing records in tourist traffic. Our vision for Hotel Tórshavn answers a growing trend in national tourism, rising from the Faroese landscape to deliver function both local and global.