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Master Plan for Old Harbour, Reykjavik, Iceland

Wednesday 31 Aug 2011

Taking on a new identity

copyright Graeme Massie Architects 
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Graeme Massie Architects transform the Old Harbour in central Reykjavik 

‘Associated Icelandic Ports main goal is to imbue the Old Harbour with the life that the right mixture of operations, services, housing and open space can offer.' - Extract from the competition brief.

The juxtaposition between urban environment and open natural landscape, rare in the context of a capital city, is integral to Reykjavik's character. Through planned and sometimes unexpected views, the landscape continually exerts its presence. The Old harbour of Reykjavik plays a key role in reinforcing the city centre's relationship to its wider landscape setting, with expansive views over the waters of Faxaflói, the outlying islands and Mount Esja.

In developing an urban strategy for the harbour the architects have sought to link the areas new identity to the landscape structure of the wider area. An archipelago arrangement of development areas (islands) is proposed, each of which assumes a clear character defined by function, typological form and character. This development structure is flexible and supports incremental development over time, as well as future expansion and adaption in response to evolving economic circumstances.

Landscape performs an important structural role in the development strategy, making the connection between urban development and its setting manifest and providing amenity space for the city's residents. Key landscape areas integrate with the existing and routes found along the urban coastline while also heightening the identity of each development area. Each open space is a destination in its own right with a distinct role and character. The proximity of dense urban, mixed use development and high quality public landscapes and transport routes provides a sustainable alternative to the suburban sprawl which characterised the Reykjavik's planning prior to the Icelandic economic crash.

The most significant development area is planned as a new low-rise, high-density spine supporting a diverse range of uses. This spine forms an extension to the city centre, creating a vibrant new waterfront identity which embraces the diversity and scale that characterised much of the city's early urban development. A distinct development pattern is created through a series of tight pedestrian lanes, running from city to sea, forming longitudinal building plots. This pattern of public space renews historic connections, and creates views between Reykjavik and its harbour, with significant streets terminating in a series of new piers.

As the spine projects beyond the city and forms a new peninsula to the west, the use changes to create a unique residential neighbourhood in close proximity to the city centre. Further development zones are formed by the consolidation of the existing oil depot, light industrial uses and development of the area adjacent to Harpa, the recently opened Concert Hall and Conference Centre.

Key Facts

Status Outline Planning
Value 0(m€)
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Graeme Massie Architects

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