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Iceland Mag


Still rough around the edges but the future for Hlemmur Square is bright

By Staff

  • Could this be the future? Architect Snædís Bjarnadóttir's proposal for a new building at Hlemmur square. Visualization by Snædís.

One of the most exiting areas for future development in central Reykjavík is Hlemmur Square, where the capital’s main central bus station is located on the city’s main shopping street, Laugavegur.


Hlemmur bus terminal Photo by Jonasunn

As often is the case next to cities’ main public transport hubs, Hlemmur’s neighbourhood used to be one of Reykjavík’s seediest ones. But those days are behind Hlemmur now and although still rough around the edges the neighbourhood is going through rapid transformation.

In the summer of 2013 American Klaus Ortlieb, who Esquire magazine has called mega-hotelier being behind such hotels as the Gotham in New York City, opened Hlemmur Square, a hybrid of a quality hotel and upscale hostel. Another hotel is being developed next to the square in a building that onced housed a bank (opening planed in 2016) and a stone’s throw away a large number of new apartments for local residents are being built.

The most radical change will, however, come when the city’s bus company moves the central station from the square to a new location. It will leave behind a building that is still considered controversial some 40 years after being constructed.

Reykjavík’s social democratic mayor, Dagur B. Eggertsson, has announced that the city will seek submissions to a competition focusing on what kind of activity should be in the building.

One idea that has already been suggested is a farmer’s market.

As a part of her MA project, the young architect, Snædís Bjarnadóttir, designed a new, beautiful building on the square designed to hold a public marketplace for food and delicacies, similar to Stockholm’s fantastic Östermalm’s Saluhallen and Copenhagen’s equally great Torvehallerne.

If we at Iceland Magazine would have something to say, Snædís’s proposal would receive our vote.


Hlemmur Inside the proposed food market. Visualization by architect Snædís Bjarnadóttir.


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