Rekyavik, Iceland

Proud Vernacular

Something must be said for a nation’s capital where the music hall is larger than any government building, and whose national bank centers around a public sculpture garden. Rekyavik, a city surrounded by some of the world’s most arresting – and most perilous – natural beauty, celebrates life in a special way.

Living in such a harsh climate, Icelanders need to be practical in what they build, so their architecture is defensive first and foremost. Concrete, steel, and aluminum form the exteriors of their buildings in surprising collages. But in response to the modest materials and the extreme Icelandic climate, these homes boast some of the most confident and surprising combinations of color and texture I’ve ever encountered. Here is a urban fabric that celebrates individuality, and which, like its inhabitants is practical, resilient, and full of life.

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