Scroll to Content

In Iceland, about 64% of the population lives in the capital region. Cities are becoming more popular as they offer opportunities for economic development and easy access to all kinds of services including public transportation, different types of housing, energy, health care and education. This is causing huge challenges to keep these dense cities functioning well. Regarding waste management, energy demands, food supply, climate and livelihood. In accordance with today’s shift from a linear economy towards a circular economy, we envision a Circular City. An urban habitat based on self-sufficiency and on re-use and durability of resources, products and materials. A shift towards a sustainable future without waste, lower costs, using less resources and providing opportunities for innovation and improved collaboration. In this process, we see the capital region of Reykjavik as a circular network in which the central areas should work together intensively. These central areas are connected to each other in networks of energy, water and food supply, (public) transport, resources and social connectedness. Kársnes becomes a productive sub-centre not only producing for its own demands but also contributing to a sustainable capital as a whole. This productive urban hotspot connects the scale level of a total city to the scale level of an individual housing unit.

The existing industrial buildings are being transformed into circular hubs including facilities for food production, water purification, waste and recycling. The plan includes a communal greenhouse, water purification plant, recycling centre, car sharing centre / charging station for e-cars. This could serve about 2.000 people. By this Kársnes will not only be self-sufficient in future but also contributes to a sustainable capital region. By keeping some of these buildings in place the industrial identity of the area is preserved. But moreover, a productive urban fabric is realized, connecting Kársnes to its context on multiple levels.
The existing grid of roads is being kept in place and expanded to the north, east and west. Reusing the grid makes it easily possible to gradually transform the area while having the basic framework already in place. In this, each building plot could have its own pace of development making the plan very flexible. Within the grid a total amount of 15 building plots is included as well as a border zone near the coastline. In the plan a variety of building typologies is offered. This mix of typologies (including single family houses, apartments, lofts and penthouses) will attract different target groups. This directly stimulates a mix of social backgrounds, forming a robust fundament for a strong sense of community. The interior of the building blocks is mainly used as a semi-private community courtyard with opportunities for biodiversity, rainwater infiltration, relaxing and playing. Depending on the typology, some houses will have their private gardens situated here. This makes that everyone is offered an outdoor space. 

Near the coastline a border zone is reserved as a publicly accessible coastal park. Here, the building density is being kept low in order to create an open atmosphere influenced by natural elements such as the ocean, vegetation and rocky soils. The park zone provides great opportunities for sports and hiking and includes a main bike/pedestrian path. This path also connects the harbor with its surroundings. The coastal park zone could be part of a large network of publicly accessible coastlines. As a connective necklace it links Kársnes to the scale level of the capital region.


Year: 2016
Type: urban design, landscape, architecture
Commissioner: Kopavogur municipality / Nordic Built Cities
Scale: 1.050 housing units
Status: competition entry