Giving the harbor back to the people: Faroese customs inspire new ferry terminal and HQ in Torshavn

Embracing the picturesque backdrop of lush landscapes and open seas, the design for Smyril Line's new headquarters and ferry terminal in Torshavn, the capital of the Faroe Islands, pays homage to traditional Faroese fishing boats and the historic Eastern harbor.

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Smyril Line's new 8000 m2 headquarters serves three distinct functions - a ferry terminal, office building, and logistics centre. The terminal, poised to become a sought-after tourist destination, features a publicly accessible outdoor ramp area that reconnects Torshavn's residents with the Eastern harbor.

Once the primary gateway connecting the Faroe Islands with the rest of the world, Torshavn's Eastern harbor holds sentimental value for many Faroese people, serving as a departure point for loved ones embarking on new journeys or as a romantic setting for leisurely strolls along the water. In recent years, the harbor was closed to the public due to Schengen port security measures. The design captures the essence of the nostalgia found in 1950’s black-and-white photographs showing crowds gathering to bid farewell to departing passengers. By separating passengers and freight, the historic promenade is reconnected with the capital.

"We are honored to unveil the design for Smyril Line's new headquarters and ferry terminal in Torshavn, a project that truly embraces the essence of the Faroe Islands. Through the expert use of materials and careful consideration of the surrounding landscape, our vision captures the essence of the islands, evoking a sense of wonder and connection,” says Louis Becker, Global Design Principal. 

Nestled in a prominent location in central Torshavn, just around the corner from the Faroese parliament building, the building seamlessly blends wood and concrete elements with the surrounding landscape. These design elements pay tribute to Faroese culture and traditions. The wooden structure mirrors the graceful contours of traditional Faroese fishing boats. Crafted with a single axe and tracing their origins back to Viking times, these boats are included in the UNESCO list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The base structure of the building reflects the hand-built coastal paths frequently found on smaller Faroese islands, providing easy boat access from the water through the steep cliff faces to small wooden boat buildings.

"Our design is a testament to the captivating beauty and maritime legacy of the Faroe Islands. The integration of wood, with its elegant lines, draws inspiration from the distinct charm of traditional Faroese boats and the historic Eastern harbor. We are proud to embark on the journey to creating this transformative space that celebrates and reconnects the community with their cherished heritage," explains Ósbjørn Jacobsen, Design Director Faroe Islands, Partner, Henning Larsen.

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