A new geothermal bathing facility is being built at Lake Urriðavatn, close to the town Egilsstaðir in East Iceland. The facility, which will go by the name of Vök, will be capable of hosting 1000 people a day, with guests able to bathe in geothermal streams and enjoy refreshments made from drinkable geothermal water.
“Construction is going very well,” said Heiður Vigfúsdóttir, CEO of Vök Baths, the company behind the project, speaking with RÚV. “The size of the building will be over one thousand square metres [10,764 sq. ft.] and the changing facilities will be able to fit over two hundred lockers, so with proper access control we will be able to receive well over a thousand visitors a day.”
Urriðavatn’s underlying strata contain veins of geothermally heated water, traditionally used to heat houses in Egilsstaðir and nearby town Fellabær. Vök will make even greater use of this heat.
The lake’s geothermal activity was originally discovered in 1963. The discovery came because holes in the lake ice called polynyas (the word “Vök” is Icelandic for polynya) remained without freezing over, no matter how cold the weather got.
Icelandic myths told of a mysterious creature named Tuska, who looked something like a gigantic otter, and used these polynyas to travel between the lake’s depths and the surface world. These polynyas were therefore called “Tuskuvakir” (Tuska’s polynyas).
“The core experience… will be pools in the water that we choose to call polynyas, with the aim of emulating the ones that would appear on the lake naturally in previous years,” said Vigfúsdóttir.
“The running theme throughout is our hot water. This is the only hot water in Iceland that’s certified safe for drinking, and we’re going to use it in our refreshment section. For beer among other things, we’ve had a special hot water beer made for us.”
In addition, the geothermal water will be used for puddings, teas and slow-baked bread.
Work on the facility began at the end of May and the project is slated for completion mid-summer of next year. Vök Baths are expecting approximately 65,000 guests in the first year of operation.