Abandoned Houses in rural Iceland is an on-going research project that started in 2011.

Run by R3 Radgjöf, Gláma-Kím architects and Stapi, it aims at mapping all abandoned houses on the southeast coast of the country.

The research project includes conducting interviews with local inhabitants, research of the history of each area and development of ideas for the future use of the abandoned farms.

The Ministries of Industry, Energy and Tourism in Iceland nominated the research project for The Motivational Award in September 2011. It was also nominated for the President of Iceland’s Innovation Award and for the DV Culture Prize for Architecture.

We talked to Steinunn Eik Egilsdóttir, who participated in the project and did some of the research work.



I have been a part of the research team in the project from the very beginning. We travelled to every farm basically looking for abandoned houses in the specific area last summer. We spoke to many natives as well as specialists in registration and cultural heritage.




It is a privilege to get to know the nation and the nature this way, absolutely invaluable experience for my future in the profession.



As the photos from the last summer’s research reveal, a lot of these houses are charming and well-made and preserve a great deal of history. The abandoned houses symbolise the people’s perseverance and hard work to live in an inclement country. Their condition is variable but the majority can still be restored and put to good use. The population in the countryside has decreased considerably, but by restoring some selected houses and using them in the tourist industry, thinly populated areas could be brought back to life. We inherit this history and we must cherish the past and present it to our new generation and guests.



This project, regarding preservation, restoration and utilisation of abandoned houses in rural Iceland, was launched last year by few individuals who had had this idea in their mind for a while. They were interested in researching the array of these houses and explore how they can be put back in use. The preparatory group consisted of architects, historians and more. They  contracted us, five university students, to make the research and register abandoned houses, something that has never been done before here in Iceland.

Some of the houses were full of old, wonderful things and furniture.


The Vidburdssél farm building shows the building methods of the first concrete houses in Iceland, using corrugated

iron for a concrete mould.



Below the first book published on the project (only in Icelandic) that features images of the farms, tells their stories and shows their locations on the map.


The Icelandic Centre for Research sponsored the project, along with a number of municipalities. The National Architectural Heritage Board in Iceland sponsored part of the publication of a book detailing the whole research, published in September 2011.


Images Courtesy of Steinunn Eik Egilsdóttir/the Abandoned Houses project team
© Abandoned houses in rural Iceland