5 Austere, Beautiful Buildings in Reykjavik

Sky. Land, and Sea.

When you visit Reykjavik, you quickly see why only the Vikings would have the gall to establish an outpost on this remote, windswept island. The high temperature today–during the peak of summer–barely made it to 50(F). Being so close to the Arctic Circle, and completely exposed to the bracing waters of the North Atlantic, harsh, biting winds have shaped the landscape here in tandem with relatively frequent volcanic activity (if you were stranded in an airport because of Eyjafjallajökull you probably don’t need any reminding). Even in metropolitan Reykjavik one is reminded of Nature’s quietly menacing power: rising out of the bay looms the titanic Esja, and against a backdrop of steel-gray sky and sea, it is only natural that much of the local architectural style is so heavily influenced by the austere landscape that surrounds it.

This gorgeous house is set right on the water and features a full glass exposure overlooking the bay:

An awesome house


Probably the tallest office building on the entire island, the glass facade is a canvas for the sky and sea to reflect off of:

Reflecting the sunset.

Not every single building in Iceland is cold and gray looking; there are many houses that are covered in sturdy metal siding but are painted with whimsical pastel colors. Icelanders clearly don’t take themselves too seriously all the time.


No structure epitomizes the cold, gray aesthetic better than the tallest building in Iceland, Hallgrímskirkja:


Inside the church.

Harpa, the national concert hall, is a bit less imposing, with a geometric steel and glass facade that lights up with colors depending on the angle you view it:

Harpa concert hall


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