Graeme Massie Architects have won first prize in the International Design Competition for an Urban Plan for Vatnsmýri, Reykjavik
The aim of the competition was to maximize the opportunity offered by Vatnsmýri to consolidate and strengthen the city of Reykjavik for the 21st century.
Vatnsmýri is a large flat area, now occupied by an airport that primarily serves domestic passenger, recreational and pilot training flights. The airfield was constructed by British military forces at the beginning of
the Second World War. At the time it was on the outskirts of the urban area but the city has since expanded greatly and surrounded the airfield site. There is now increasing interest in the possibilities of developing the
airport area, land that is owned by the Icelandic State and the City of Reykjavik.
The winning proposal is premised on the need for the city of Reykjavik to strengthen its identity and reputation in order to globally compete for business and tourism. The historic centre, 101, is internationally recognisable; however its location and popularity is such that it is coming under increasing development pressure. To remove this pressure we propose a framework which integrates with the existing infrastructure and built fabric of 101 and other adjoining areas, and is wholly sustainable. The proposal also draws from 101 a reciprocal relationship between urban fabric, lake, waterfront, hill and landmark, creating a new district which is at once both recognisable and distinct: urban in character but intrinsically linked to the landscape.
Within a multi-layered solution encompassing elements as diverse as historical retention, integrated traffic management, sustainability and ecology, landscape plays a vital role in the organisation and cohesion of the
newly enlarged city centre: it is a unifying element linking old and new, natural and man-made. Evolving and diverse, it serves as a device to wrap, support, and structure the subsequent developments within the urban