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. ‘A project of such significance requires a bold and at the same time sensitive approach. A step-by-step roadmap will provide investors with a trajectory that responds to the possibilities, to the market, to the culture of development and to the stakeholder landscape over time. This gradual approach should also apply to stakeholder relations, which need to be developed with great care so as to create a resilient and ambitious organisation,’ says Anouk Kuitenbrouwer, partner in charge at KCAP. 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.