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Monocle 24's 'The Urbanist' Explores Reykjavík's "Growing Success"

For this week's The UrbanistMonocle 24's "guide to making better cities," Andrew Tuck and David Plaisant broadcast a Reykjavík special with a series of reports from the Icelandic capital. They explore how this city marks its spot on the world map, looking at its high-quality new museums alongside its growing cultural and culinary scene. With around one million tourists visiting the city last year, th Reykjavík is experiencing a boom in popularity — which some describe as "maybe too much". With only around 300,000 inhabitants, Monocle 24 asks how the world's most northerly capital is coping with this growing success.

Mosfellsbær Preperatory High School / A2F arkitektar

The first phase of FMOS, the new Upper Secondary School in Mosfellsbaer, provides space for up to 500 pupils. The building is intertwined with the landscape on the narrow plot, the diagonal lines of the building refer to the hills in the surroundings and one of the roofs turns into a green ramp to walk about on. Mosfellsbær is a town of approximately 9.000 inhabitants, situated 15 kilometers east of Reykjavik. It is the hometown of Iceland’s noble prize winner, writer Halldór Laxnes, from whom inspiration is sought: ”... and flowers grow on the roof”* – the landscape becomes the building which becomes landscape… The 12.000 sqm plot of the school is situated close to the town center and along Highway nr. 1, which lies through Mosfellsbær. This influences the shape and choice of material of the building, aiming to minimize sound emission.

H71a / Studio Granda

  • Architects: Studio Granda
  • Location: Hverfisgata, Reykjavík, Iceland
  • Area: 231.0 sqm
  • Photographs: Courtesy of Studio Granda, Sigurgeir Sigurjónsson

© Sigurgeir Sigurjónsson © Sigurgeir Sigurjónsson © Sigurgeir Sigurjónsson © Sigurgeir Sigurjónsson

Turninn / PK Arkitektar

  • Architects: PK Arkitektar
  • Location: Reykjavik, Iceland
  • Design Team: Pálmar Kristmundsson, Fernando de Mendonça, Dagni Wiest, Leonardo Colucci, Helge Garke, Thórsteinn Geirharðsson
  • Area: 23000.0 sqm
  • Project Year: 2010
  • Photographs: Hedi Kairouannais, Rafael Pinho, Helge Garke

© Rafael Pinho © Rafael Pinho © Rafael Pinho © Helge Garke

B25 House / PK Arkitektar

  • Architects: PK Arkitektar
  • Location: Reykjavik, Iceland
  • Design Team: Pálmar Kristmundsson, Fernando de Mendonça, Anja Schröter and Andrew Burgess
  • Consultants: Conís Verkfræðiráðgjöf, Verkhönnun
  • Area: 457.0 sqm
  • Project Year: 2010
  • Photographs: Rafael Pinho

© Rafael Pinho © Rafael Pinho © Rafael Pinho © Rafael Pinho

Ion Hotel / Minarc

© Art Gray, Ragnar Th. Sigurdsson, Torfi Agnarrson, Kristbjorg Sigurjonsdottir
© Art Gray, Ragnar Th. Sigurdsson, Torfi Agnarrson, Kristbjorg Sigurjonsdottir
  • Architects: Minarc
  • Location: Iceland
  • Design Team: Tryggvi Thorsteinsson, Erla Dögg Ingjaldsdóttir
  • Project Year: 2013
  • Photographs: Art Gray, Ragnar Th. Sigurdsson, Torfi Agnarrson, Kristbjorg Sigurjonsdottir

© Art Gray, Ragnar Th. Sigurdsson, Torfi Agnarrson, Kristbjorg Sigurjonsdottir © Art Gray, Ragnar Th. Sigurdsson, Torfi Agnarrson, Kristbjorg Sigurjonsdottir © Art Gray, Ragnar Th. Sigurdsson, Torfi Agnarrson, Kristbjorg Sigurjonsdottir © Art Gray, Ragnar Th. Sigurdsson, Torfi Agnarrson, Kristbjorg Sigurjonsdottir

Harpa Concert Hall wins the European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture - Mies van der Rohe Award 2013

Harpa, the Reykjavik Concert Hall and Conference Centre in Iceland, is the winner of the 2013 European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture - Mies van der Rohe Award the European Commission and the Mies van der Rohe Foundation announced today. Designed by Henning Larsen Architects, Batteríið Architects and Studio Olafur Eliasson the building has helped to transform and revitalise Reykjavik harbour and brought the city and harbour district closer together. 

The 'Emerging Architect Special Mention' award goes to María Langarita and Víctor Navarro for the Nave de Música Matadero (Red Bull Music Academy) in Madrid, Spain. The award ceremony will take place on 7 June at the Mies van der Rohe Pavilion in Barcelona, coinciding with the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the prize.

More information after the break.

Pixel Cloud Installation / UNSTABLE

Designed and directed by Iceland based architect Marcos Zotes and his studio UNSTABLE, their Pixel Cloud installation is the winning competition entry for the Reykjavik Winter Lights Festival 2013, organized by Höfuðborgarstofa, Orkusalan and the Iceland Design Center. The installation creates an opportunity for Icelanders to reconsider the use and management of their urban public spaces. With the current financial situation leaving a permanent landscape of obsolete scaffolding structures scattered across the city, this has resulted in urban scars that remind us of the fragility of their current society. This installation takes advantage of this condition by transforming an ordinary scaffolding structure into a fully immersive environment of light and sound in the heart of Reykjavík. More images and architects' description after the break.

Culture Center / Arkitema Architects

Courtesy of Akitema
Courtesy of Akitema
  • Architects: Arkitema Architects
  • Location: Akureyri, Island
  • Design Team: Arkitema and Arkthing
  • Client: Akureyri Municipality and the Icekandic Ministry of Education, Science and Culture
  • Area: 7400.0 sqm
  • Project Year: 2010
  • Photographs: Courtesy of Akitema

Courtesy of Akitema Courtesy of Akitema Courtesy of Akitema Courtesy of Akitema

Vigdis Languages Center Proposal / OOIIO Architecture

Designed for the “Vigdis Foundation”, the Languages Center aims to be a rational building, where modulation is a key aspect. Designed by OOIIO Architecture, there is no architectural excess that might increase the budget, but quite singular and special at the same time, comfortable for users and interesting enough to get the pedestrians attention. Built to host exhibitions, a cinema-theater, café, library, and more, the construction of the building is efficient, quick and with a rational materials use. More images and architects’ description after the break.More images and architects’ description after the break.

Video: Sigur Rós - Varúð by Ryan McGingley

As part of the ‘Valtari’ Mystery film experiment of the Icelandic band Sigur Rós, the video for Varúð was released few days ago. Directed by Ryan McGingley, it shows New York in a magnificent way as we architects would like to move around.

Ice House / Minarc

  • Architects: Minarc
  • Location: Reykjavik, Iceland
  • Area: 0.0 ft2
  • Project Year: 2011
  • Photographs: Torfi Agnarsson

© Torfi Agnarsson © Torfi Agnarsson © Torfi Agnarsson © Torfi Agnarsson

AD Round Up: Architecture in Iceland

Stöðin / Krads

© Kristinn Magnússon © Kristinn Magnússon © Kristinn Magnússon © Kristinn Magnússon

Female Prison / OOIIO Architecture

Based on natural light, open spaces and greenery such as peat, grass and flowers, the proposal by OOIIO Architecture for the Female Prison in Iceland dismisses the dark spaces, small cells and grey concrete walls typical of a traditional prison. The construction will be economical and efficient while not giving off the appearance of a typical penitentiary and increasing a sense of freedom. More images and architects’ description after the break.