Tag Archives: architecture

An Old Gate Post Without A Farm

If you explore old farm sites in remote areas in Iceland, you will find boulders, set at the boundary of a tun, a house field manured from a barn. This, in Icelandic culture, is a yard, or garden. A pretty special place. With a boulder.

These boulders are all chosen. Many have animal shapes. Many of those are ravens. Some are dwarf stones. Here on the old road up to Vatnjökull from the Fljótsdalur, it’s a raven, which is fitting, because when you walk up the trail, the ravens are watching the whole time, to see if you’re going to tumble down into the gorge and become lunch. it’s best to honour wise creatures like that.

When the Cows Come Home

And the boats.

In Iceland, barn architecture, being as sturdy as a mountain…

…can serve all purposes. It’s the details that count. In this boat yard, for instance, it’s harbour between the devil (the road) and the deep blue sea (the shipping container.)

Arnarstapi

What jokesters those Icelanders are, when it comes to hard truths.

The Roots of Reykjavik Architecture

Do you wonder why Reykjavik looks like Reykjavik? 

For the answer, go to the Northeast.

Bustarfell, near Vopnafjörður.

Note the multiplicity of small houses, all that turf and driftwood and the strength of a horse can manage …

… with many dark passages leading to faint light…

… sometimes brighter…

…and all joined together by spontaneous organic design…

And then back to Reykjavik you go, this time with the delight of recognition…

Splendid.

It’s improv theatre!

This is the kind of history the Icelandic National Museum doesn’t cover. Best to get lost on your way there, I think.

One of Iceland’s Small Pleasures

I know, it’s a thing to chase after waterfalls, but consider the lowly Icelandic driftwood fence. It’s a charming tradition, speaking of past pain set aside.

Unaós

It doesn’t really do anything except to remember, but it’s a fine artwork nonetheless. It catches the mind and holds it, and that is… well, that’s memory. Cool.

What Iceland Can Teach About the 1970s

In the 1970s, A-Frame housing, cheap and easy to build, was all the rage in Canada. We were being very modern and Scandinavian back in those years, two things we’ve given up. We also soon grew tired of living at a slant and having half our floor space unusable (not to mention bonking our heads). I lived in a house like the one below for two years.

After that, we all gave it up and invented the 1980s, which was all about rectangular solids painted to look like California, with Tudor trim. In Egilsstaðir, however, the 1970s are still alive and well, because, well, it’s Scandinavia and, also, they couldn’t afford to throw anything away. And it’s still modern! A lesson for us all.