All posts filed under: Opinion

Student Series 2017
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Hætta / Athugið Signage System by Ívar Björnsson

With tourism growing at an acute rate, Icelandic agencies and landowners are now working to minimize accidents and preventable risks by building up the national travel infrastructure needed to support the large influx of incoming travellers. Hætta / Athugið contributes valuably to this effort with customizable icons and a thoughtful system that will soon be tested at popular tourist attractions in collaboration with the Environmental Agency of Iceland. Hætta / Athugið by Ívar Björnsson is a customizable signage system that uses humor and charismatic graphic language to address the serious issue of tourist safety in Iceland. There is a current lack of consistent and effective signage across the country and tourists often may not realize the bodily risks encountered while traveling the countryside—whether intense winds, unpredictable beaches, or glaciers. How would you describe your project? The increase of accidents in Iceland following the tourist boom is a national concern. Current Icelandic warning and danger signs are not sufficiently effective or systematized. My objectives were to create a signage system that succeeds in grabbing attention of …

Thoughts on Landscape

Landscape is a multi-layered concept and phenomenon, and as such it has been the subject of a diverse range of disciplines and studies. A broad overview of the different approaches to understanding landscape shows us that there are two basic sides to the concept, which have received differing amounts of attention from those who study it – the two sides in question being firstly landscape as a physical and visible phenomenon, and secondly landscape as the intangible and invisible intertwining of the being that perceives and the phenomenon that is perceived. What follows will be a summation of my thoughts on the interplay of these twinned sides, and how landscape affects us all, both as a concept and as a phenomenon, whether it interacts with us in our daily lives or as a subject of study, in fields such as architecture and design. Much as I did in my piece on beauty for the HA website 1, I wish to begin by examining how the word landscape is used in our day-to-day vocabulary. The initial …

Hlemmur — Transit Transformation

Reykjavik transport hub Hlemmur has been resurrected, reborn into the role it was always meant to assume; that of an indoor market, an essential feature in a city where outdoor activities are infeasible for most of the year. Architect Gunnar Hansson’s distinctive building, once one of Reykjavík’s best-known meeting places for punks and misfits, has undergone renovation and is now a popular food hall, a place where a broad variety of both fresh and prepared food can be found and purchased. Hlemmur square, located in the eastern corner of central Reykjavik, has a long and colourful history. Food has been sold at Hlemmur square for over a century The year 1904 saw the construction of a new house on the lot by 125 Hverfisgata, a house affectionately known as the North Pole (Norðurpóllinn). Food was sold there, mostly to travellers passing through. At the time, the area around Hlemmur was considered the city’s eastern limits, with only a scant few houses standing further east. Travellers to and from the city were consequently frequent visitors, and …

Student Series 2017 / Through the Looking Glass

Interview with professor Thomas Pausz

Through the Looking Glass is a series of spotlights showcasing new design talent. The series offers an in-depth look into six exceptional graduation projects from the Iceland Academy of the Arts, along with an introductory interview with Thomas Pausz—a professor of product design at the Iceland Academy of the Arts and the curator of the 2017 BA degree show TEIKN / GESTURES. In the interview below, Thomas helps us gain a greater perspective on this year’s graduating students and insight into what young designers are making today. Through the series, we hope to gauge the upcoming creative pulse in Iceland and offer a window into how a new generation of creatives is responding to times of environmental anxiety, political instability and redefined values. — As the curator, how would you characterize this year’s graduating projects? I was very inspired by the humour with which the students are addressing difficult topics. We live in confusing times, with a disturbing political and ecological crisis, but this generation is making the choice to challenge the gloom and to …

HA#5

Is out now

The fifth issue of HA magazine on Icelandic design and architecture is out now. In this fifth issue of HA we cover a lot of ground and consider projects, ideas, and dreams. Fittingly for the summer edition, we discuss a few projects that were introduced at this past DesignMarch. Among them is an interview with the design team And Anti Matter, which reveals just how important it is to have a holistic approach when presenting design. We also cover Siggi Odds’s rune project and Aníta Hirlekar’s new clothing line – as both of them garnered well-deserved attention at DesignMarch this year. In this edition we also approach issues of city planning from a new perspective. We join Birkir Ingibjartsson, architect, as he allows himself to dream of the metropolis Reykjavík. In the article “Nowhere Land”, Birkir considers how we might consummate the city in four steps; the city that we abandoned after the impractical dreams of the modernists came to nothing. We look at how the educational programme Biophilia has contributed to innovation in schools and shaken up traditional teaching methods in the Nordic countries.  …

Cabinet of Curiosities

IAA Product Design Graduates 2016 Part 2

This year’s BA graduates in product design displayed a cabinet of curiosities to show their final projects backed with rich research. In the first part of this two-part-article, we spoke to Gardar Eyjólfsson, who is the director of studies in Product Design and who lead the final project course together with Thomas Pausz. In this second part we highlight one exemplary project by BA graduate Kristín Sigurðardóttir.   Kristín Sigurðardóttir – The Alchemist For her final project ‘Utile’, Kristín Sigurðardóttir created obsidian by recycling stone-wool, then made tiles from it. “The starting point was glass recycling. I got really interested in it when I found out about the non-existing glass recycling in Iceland and all glass is imported. To my surprise, bottles we return to the recycling centers are not sent abroad for recycling in other countries, like we do with the plastic and aluminum, and we do not have a glass factory in Iceland to recycle it either. So thousands of tons of glass have been used in landfills. Some experiments have been made to recycle …

“Reporting from the Front”

Conversation on the Venice Biennale 2016

Text by Mark Smyth (MS), Sigrún Sumarliðadóttir (SS) and Giambattista Zaccariotto (GZ)   GZ: In the press conference and introduction of the Biennale in Venice 2016 it was stated that it has been organized around the statements that the built environment is key for the quality of life of the majority and that it is there implicitly for the common good. A common good, which is threatened by a number of existing problems that are ongoing, such as natural disasters (mostly man made) and purely economically driven construction. These spatial conditions are reducing the possibilities for humanity, in terms of our rights, physical and psychological needs. This has been called the built environment of banality or mediocracy and there are inherent drivers that produce and reproduce it. One of the drivers that has been considered key, is the use of the built environment as an economical tool rather then a social one or a goal for a welfare infrastructure, this is a key theme in Aravena’s biennale. SS: Keeping this in mind, Aravena organised the …

Biennale report #2 – Social Sustainability

The potential for architecture to engage with the community

Architects Sigrún Sumarliðadóttir, Mark Smyth and Giambattista Zaccariotto, give us an insight into some of the highlights of the 15th Biennale of Architecture in Venice 2016. Globalisation has separated the general public from the perceived architectural elite. The role of the architect, in some cases, needs to broaden to look beyond the object (building) to the economical and social interventions required to better serve a community. One of the main emphasis of the curator Aravena this year is a focus of architectures role in improving the quality of daily life by improving the quality of the built environment and reconnecting with the users/citizens (what Aravena calls “the civil society”) that are often excluded from the process of its making. Improving the quality of daily life of people is a complex affair and the solution or intervention required can be a new physical object in the landscape but not necessarily, in other cases slight changes in the existing can be enough or even just encouraging changes in behaviour, breaking the vicious circle of the status quo/business as usual. Below are …

Biennale Report #1 – Cultural Sustainability

The resurgence of local craft, materials and skills

REPORTING FROM THE FRONT, was this year’s title for the Biennale of Architecture in Venice. The international exhibition opened on the 28. of May and was curated by architect and pritzker prizewinner Alejandro Aravena. Architects Sigrún Sumarliðadóttir, Mark Smyth and Giambattista Zaccariotto, visited the exhibition and gave us an insight into some of this years highlights. Traditional technologies where a recurring theme at this year’s Biennale; presented both as a source of knowledge and a mechanism for education – the creation of knowledge. This is nothing new, and one could argue that our existing architectural toolkit was discussed exhaustively at the previous biennale curated by Rem Koolhas. The difference we observed (and welcomed) this year was a conscious effort by a large number of the participants to illustrate how these tools where deployed successfully in their contemporary practice. One of our favourite contributions this year, came from Zhang Ke (Standard Architecture) of China. The presentation was particularly successful in explaining a solution to an urban problem, from the scale of the city through to a full-size prototype. He introduces …

HA nr. 3

is out

In the third issue of HA, we embrace the anti-establishment, play with the rules and confidently face the future. Issue 3 features the most interesting new design introduced during DesignMarch. Summit co-founder Daniel Golling writes about the state of things in Icelandic design while Finnish design strategist Marco Steinberg looks at design in relation to politics – a topical view in the context of the political turmoil of our island in the past few months. Spark Design Space, the Iceland Academy of the Arts, Vík Prjónsdóttir and the Nordic mash-up project 1+1+1 are all included, too. HA is published both in Icelandic and in English by the Iceland Design Centre. It is available in Eymundsson bookstores, which are located in every major towns in Iceland, and in most Design stores in the Reykjavík area; Epal, Kraum, Hrím, Aurum, Reykjavík art museum, National Galley of Iceland and The National Museum of Iceland. We are proud to be stocked overseas atPapercut in Stockholm; Lokal in Helsinki and Kioskafe by Monocle in London. You can also order a …