The Reykjavik downtown harbour area plays an important role in the city’s master plan for 2010-2030. As the harbor storage buildings have emptied, designers and creatives were the first to follow the competitive workspace rents. In just a few years, gaming companies, custom bike shops, coffee houses and galleries have followed.
With new hotels and housing planned, the area is constantly changing. The aim is to re-establish its original role as one of the city’s most vibrant areas. Luckily, the new plans also go back from the pre-financial crisis plans of re-building everything from scratch. Rather, the plan is to mix new and old buildings with respect to the old. First steps will be taken on the currently empty slot between Icelandair Hotel Reykjavik Marina and Reykjavik Maritime Museum.
In the heart of it all is the shipyard, in full operation, and to its west, the operating fishing harbor. Real, rugged and in full operation, the Reykjavik water front is a rare mix of trawlers and creatives, Apple gear and orange overalls that makes for a fantastic stroll on a sunny day.
Our intern Florian Lohse did just that, and asked people he met how they feel about the area.
Ps. Scroll down all the way to the end of the post for a list of places we recommend you to not miss
Andreas Jakob Gudjonsson, EPAL Design Store at Harpa
I like it as it is right now. I went to all the meetings for the harbor development project and I am a bit afraid the planned new buildings will get to big. They should use the exisiting housing and preserve the harbors history and soul. I love the reusage of the buildings in Grandagardur for example. What they did with the Marina Hotel is nice as well.
Sævar Hafsteinn Johannsson, Reykjavik Art Museum
The Harbor always has been the heart of the town. Most of the real traffic now goes to the bigger harbor in Sundahöfn, so it’s great they are filling up the empty space with culture. But they should think a bit about climate change and the rise of the sea water level (laughs)
In this neighboorhood all the residencial buildings are turning to hostels, people are moving away and even rent out their own flats to tourists. Crazy stuff..
It would be great if there would be some new musical venues popping up in this area as well. With Faktorý closing soon, there will be just Harpa as a bigger musical venue in downtown Reykjavik, and this option really won’t fit for all the musicians out there.
Elín Thorhallsdóttir ,working in the Area
I thing the recent development is very good, it brings life into the area. But hopefully people won’t overreact, so that everybody is opening a hotel now. The tourism-thing is becoming a bit of a new bubble at the moment.
steelworker at the Stálsmidjan shipyard
There are more tourists coming around here, that’s nice. But it actually doesn’t change so much for us. We still can paint a whole ship in a week if we want to.I guess the tourists quite like having our ships around here. I heard of guests from Marina Hotel complaining when there were no ships on the docks at the moment of their visit. There even was a petition from this area’s people and the tourists demanding the secured existence of our shipyard here.
Brynjar, Burger Artist at Hamborgara Búllan
I work and live in the harbor area for a very long time. I really like to be here. Having the sea, the wind and the mountain view around me is just great. Actually I don’t go anywhere else so often.
Karen Möller Sivertsen, Maritime Museum
I like to work here a lot, especially after the Ice cream shop opened. Now there is much more traffic. Would be nice if there were some speed bumpers though, the cars are still driving very fast here.
I studied tourism and what happens here seems very familiar to me. We should be really careful to not develop to fast, and to preserve what we have here in the harbor area.We really should take on things slowly.
Asdís, selling tickets for Whale Tours
Yeah I like the harbor area! I got really tanned while working here, not so easy to achieve that in Iceland. And I can see the sea from my workplace.
It’s getting bigger and bigger every year. Now we have two big whale watching companies here! I think at the moment, that’s a good development.
Valgardur Bragason, Fine Artist with a studio in Grandagardur
I share my studio here with 3 other artists since three and a half years. We do mostly paintings and sculptures. There really was a lot of change in the area recently, I guess there are 5 times more tourists here than last year. But at night the harbor area still can be a bit special. They sometimes do illegal street races up here and get chased by police then (laughs).
Check list for a walk in the Reykjavik City Harbor
- Food and drinks: Kaffivagninn, MAR, Valdís ice cream store, Slippbarinn, Saegreifinn, Cafe Haiti, Baejarins Beztu, Bullan
- Designers: Steinunn, Farmers Market
- Architecture: Harpa, Reykjavik Art Museum
- Shopping: Myrin
- Culture: Reykjavik Maritime Museum, Reykjavik Art Museum, i8, Reykjavik Museum of Photography, Reykjavik City Library, Elding Whale Watching
Images by Florian Lohse