Team KCAP wins Keflavík Airport Area Strategic Masterplan competition

Keflavík Airport

With an integrated vision that links an ambitious economic development concept to sustainable urban design, landscape, and mobility strategies, Team KCAP won the international competition for the Keflavík Airport Area Strategic Masterplan in Iceland. The competition was organised by the Keflavík Airport Development Company (Kadeco), which leads the development of a 55km2 area surrounding Iceland’s global aviation hub.

The masterplan seeks to transform strategic locations in the airport area into a showcase for the country’s ambitious economic development and sustainability strategies. It was this approach—together with the proposal for collaborative development between public and private sectors—that earned the team the first prize. The second and third prizes were awarded to international consortia led by Arup and Jacobs respectively.

The winning proposal aims to capitalise on Keflavik’s strategic position between Europe and North America, its plentiful supply of renewable energy, and the captivating landscape of the Reykjanes UNESCO Geopark; it sets the path for long-term sustainable development and acts as a catalyst to innovate the Icelandic economy. At the same time, the masterplan seeks to ensure that the airport and local communities of Reykjanesbær and Suðurnesjabær grow together in a mutually beneficial manner.

With that in mind, Team KCAP’s proposal emphasises projects that have a strong local ownership and respond to existing needs. The team’s strategy identifies catalyst sites that can achieve a high impact in terms of identity and value creation. These sites form a polycentric urban archipelago, connected by the landscape of the Airport Corridor. Landscape innovation will be deployed to integrate climate mitigation, and will play a fundamental role as the ‘identity carrier’ for the airport area.

Tapping into the government’s climate action plan that identifies reforestation as a top priority, the landscape concept connects the Airport Corridor into a national network of reforestation projects. A future oriented mobility vision comprising the Keflavík-Reykjavík Link (BRT), local public transport and active mobility linkages connects the airport area’s urban nodes for travellers, workers and inhabitants alike.

Different development strategies have been assigned to the catalyst sites, from greenfield interventions to the transformation and densification of existing built areas; carefully phased timelines allow for the different areas to be developed simultaneously and incrementally, according to market demand. The catalyst sites facilitate diversification into new sectors such as the production of green hydrogen, electric aviation, hi-tech agriculture, and marine aquaculture.

Keflavík Airport Area will attract new high-value companies and create opportunities for a diverse workforce; the economic strategy will deepen the talent pool for innovative sectors by attracting international experts as well as improving educational opportunities for the local population. This is based on the team’s belief that knowledge and skills acquired overseas can be brought back to benefit the Icelandic economy, and that investment in economic development should also target the development of the labor force.

To transform the Masterplan Framework for Keflavík Airport Area into reality, the multidisciplinary team developed a cohesive yet incremental strategy for the catalyst sites. Positioning Kadeco – the client – as a forward-looking collaborative partner, capable of realising a vision for change, is vital for the future of the project. Source by KCAP.

  • Location: Keflavík, Island
  • Architect: KCAP
  • Economic and real estate development: WSP
  • Landscape architect: Felixx Landscape Architects & Planners
  • Mobility and transport planning: MIC Mobility in Chain
  • Local coordination, urban planning: VSO Consulting, Reykjavík
  • Cargo planning: Buck Consultants International
  • Climate and aviation mitigation, environmental performance and energy supply strategy: Buro Happold
  • Placemaking and wayfinding: Base Design
  • Airport area masterplanning: Maurits Schaafsma
  • Emerging aviation technologies: Amberg Loglay
  • Local architect and landscape architect: Kanon Arkitektar
  • Client: Kadeco
  • Year: 2021
  • Images: Courtesy of KCAP