Wednesday, December 19, 2018


“The term pied-à-terre implies usage as a temporary second residence (but not a vacation home), either for part of the year or part of the work week, by a reasonably wealthy person.” ~ Wikipedia

Ignoring its brutalist facades, the current Harbour Square Project in Reykjavík is also an affront on the Icelandic society. By taking several blocks from between the old harbour and the city center, ÞG Verk, an Icelandic development firm (they’re also the people who created the “penis mall”), have created a sterile and creepy urban wasteland. Instead of celebrating vibrant Icelandic traditions they have taken a page from the now long-discredited Modernist architectural movement of the 1920s and coupled it with elitist attitudes. Gray concrete and plain glass, with nary an embellishment anywhere, these brooding monoliths offer “… demanding buyers what they need when it comes to accessibility, luxury, exclusivity, and design philosophy.”

There is a housing crisis in Reykjavík, but this project doesn’t address it:
“…conveniently located pied-à-terre apartments can easily become attractive options for highend travellers looking for premium places and luxurious comforts. Ground floor spaces are dedicated to retail and service, whereas upper floors are reserved for high-end residential apartments and office spaces. Green rooftop gardens will be accessible to all residents, essentially forming a secret haven amidst the colourful Reykjavík rooftops.”
Don’t expect to see any creatives in the commercial spaces here either:

• Law firms
• Asset management firms
• Consulting firms
• Architects
• Private banking
• PR firms
• Design studios
• And other operations

Here is an artist conception of one of the new streets:

Here it is in real life:

The street was usually deserted when I was there in November—in sharp contrast to vibrant Austurstræti, a couple of blocks over. One evening I did have an encounter with one local on it, however. An intoxicated, very large man wearing an expensive but soiled business suit, came staggering up. This human metaphor asked if I could spare “one or two thousand kronur” ($8-16).

Even the panhandlers are upscale here.

More on the gentrification of downtown Reykjavík.

Update: Is the boom over?

By Professor Batty


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