In downtown Reykjavík there are two small lots at the corner of Vegamótastígur and Grettisgata. One is vacant since the demolition of a nineteenth century stone cottage in the late sixties. A corrugated iron clad timber house, built in 1904 and inhabited by the descendants of the original family, occupies the other. The house is remarkable not only for its age (Reykjavík is a very young town) but also as Icelands most renowned painter, Jóhannes Kjarval, lived and worked there as a young man. A frequent guest was the Nobel literary laureate Halldór Kiljan Laxness who wrote his first novel there.

Current planning in Reykjavík permits the demolition of the house and the redevelopment of the sites and this has placed considerable pressure on the owners of the house. Furthermore the proliferation of bars and nightclubs adjacent to the site has resulted in an environment that is not compliant with dwelling at street level. To relieve realtor harassment the vacant site was purchased enabling the two sites to be developed as one.

The scheme proposes a multi-level gallery to the street with three floors of soundproofed apartments above. The vegetated roof of this building is a new tranquil site for the house relocated in partnership with the rebuilt cottage. Car parking is provided in a deep basement served by a lift. The new building is clad in a sheath of finely seamed flat copper with an-situ concrete attic that doubles as the foundation for the historic hamlet. Copper is used again at the upper levels in corrugated form replacing the vernacular iron, offset with the judicious use of glass in handrails and canopies.

Client : Efri-Vegamót ehf
Architects : Studio Granda
Structural & environmental engineers : Vídsjá
Electrical services : VJÍ
Contractor : Ístak

Further reading...

Montage March 2008
Montage December 2007
Montage June 2007
Sigfús Halldórsson 1960