Reykjavik, 2010-2013


Resilient Urban Strategies

Contemporary global socio-economic conditions and climate change pose an uncertainty regarding future development of the built environment. It is urgent to shift towards more resilient strategies for the urban development where an investigation into retrofitting the existing inhabited landscape is central. New spatial connections and programs at the level of the building, the block, the neighbourhood and on the level of the city can be identified, and alternative approaches can challenge the unfruitful processes of the past decade.

The aim of this project was to use case Reykjavik Capital Area to gain understanding of the relationship between scarcity and creativity in a building boom followed by an economic meltdown in Iceland in 2008. The project has sought to detect creativity involved in the making of the built environment before and after the crash. Furthermore it has attempted to develop methods to encourage spatial interventions and stimulate creativity in the built environment as an answer for the local population and authorities to overcome their problems after the blow.

The work has been threefold:

1. Information was gathered through photography, mapping and interviews. This material was put together in written text and graphical presentation to be used to form design-briefs. Some of the more important findings presented in the briefs was that 25% of the capital area was under construction the last 6 years before the crash, with parallel processes going on in all 7 municipalities, which is causing a series of problems for the inhabitants, municipalities and state. The briefs can function as a working document for designers for retrofitting the new build-up in the city to fit to changed needs.

2. Two workshops (14 days in 2011 and 10 days in 2012) were organized with local institutions, involving students in architecture, planning and urbanism. A cross-disciplinary team was invited to the workshops to introduce problems and potentials of the different urban systems (water, transport, economy, ecology...) to be used for integrated approach to design that would support a new green economy. Also local agents of change; actors who have experimented with alternative practises on the fringe were invited to share their knowledge for a creative process of learning.

3. Platforms (seminars open to the public) were made for exchange between researchers, who are investigating the field of the crash. In addition we invited stakeholders to the critiques of the student projects, made an exhibition of the projects for the general public, made 3 platforms in social media (a blog, a discussion forum and crisis mapping) and stimulated public discussion about the subject by writing in the public press and on widely read blogs.

Scibe-Reykjavík is a case-study under the Oslo part of the SCIBE project which was led by Professor Christian Hermansen at the Oslo School of Architecture. April Architects are responsible for the concept and the work of the Scibe-Reykjavík case, architect and partner in April, Arna Mathiesen, and Dr. Giambattista Zaccariotto have conceptualized and organized the research, inviting as many types actors in the built environment as possible into the process.

More about this project on and