dancing with architecture: iceland

The bride and I love-love-love Iceland. We've been to the land of ice twice so far and plan to go again. The first time, back in 2005, was to see our favorite band, gusgus, play at the Iceland Airwaves music festival. It was a magical trip to a magical land. The country is beautifully desolate and highly photogenic (as long as the light cooperates...). We somehow scored a penthouse suite atop a downtown hotel with 360 degree views of Reykjavik and, by happenchance, got to hang out with members of the band in a local bar (Bjork was there as well, but we didn't see [or recognize] her). We returned in 2009 to see gusgus yet again, this time at a local festival in Seydisfjordur on the opposite side of the island, a perfect reason to drive the ring road and see (almost) all of the country.

You could describe Iceland's buildings as put-your-back-to-the-wind-and-huff-into-your-hands architecture. The original buildings were dusty dugouts hollowed into the mossy soil. Most vernacular buildings are swiss chalet-y and colorful--and clad in corrugated iron with smallish hefty windows to keep out the ice and cold. The perimeter of the island is guarded by utilitarian yet picturesque lighthouses as well as numerous but lonely churches.

Reykjavik has some spirited architecture with the cathedral of the Church of Iceland, designed in 1937, perched above it all on top of the local hill. The shape and structure of the church evokes (belches loudly, one could argue...) the columnar jointing of the basaltic bedrock that forms the country itself. Just outside Reykjavik near the airport at Husavik is the Blue Lagoon, a resort centered about the geothermal outfall from a nearby power plant. The resort and setting is modern, and the architecture can be enjoyed while wading through warm water.


  1. The giant snow balls and snow rolls - i assume that is done to expose the ground to sunlight sooner?

    1. Those are actually plastic wrapped hay bales (I love the way they look). Iceland's climate is like a colder version of Seattle: Overcast a lot with a fair amount of rainfall. Gotta keep that hay wrapped to keep it good.