The Iceland Academy of the Arts, architecture department and April Arkitekter ran a 2 weeks SCIBE-workshop at the Academy in Reykjavik August 22-September 2nd 2011. Eleven third year students participated in the workshop.

Four areas or neighbourhoods have been chosen as the site of exploration and focus for the workshop. All these chosen areas are found on the periphery or edge of the capital area and are currently only half-developed. Each area has vastly different geological conditions and history: 1) Vellirnir on a lava field, 2) A coastal development in Hafnarfjörður, 3) Úlfarsfell in the windy tundra and 4) Helgafell, a prime agricultural land. We attempt bringing into the foreground local resources (in contrast to flows of resources from foreign territories) bringing new meanings and visions regarding the life and livelihood they can offer their inhabitants and other people in the city.

The objective is to develop new guiding models for design grounded in global challenges as well as ecological rationality; challenges and potentials in the specific local situations. We want to trigger a new kind of discussion among stakeholders in order to cultivate win-win combinations for the different actors (cooperation-cultural values), flows (resource conservation, energy and water saving and pollution prevention) and the spatial features. We start our work with considering four different scenarios entailing basic needs: Water, food, dwelling and mobility. A given scenario will guide are search for alternative guiding models for urban living.

Students will work in four groups, each group will focus on a particular scenario for a given site.

The designer produces new knowledge and understanding of the environment with rigorous application of analysis and design. The aim of this project was for students to propose alternative models of living in chosen areas currently under development on the fringe of RCA. Through a creative process of learning, combining the analytical as well as visionary skills of the critical thinker and designer, students tested a given scenario for urban living within a given local environment, by producing new spatial guidelines for future development.

Analytical tools: description models (mapping, photography, diagrams, data, ) are used to identify problems/opportunities in the situation.

Design tools: Guiding models (visual solution in principle or rule, diagrams…) and scenario techniques (“what if …?”) are the perfect tools to start new discussions with projecting and testing new understandings, – and to contribute to ongoing discussions amongst stakeholders. These tools can be viewed as the means for bridging the gap between the overall vision and general aims of sustainable development and the more concrete plans and interpretation of the aims.

Sigrún Birgisdóttir, Dr. Giambattista Zaccariotto and Arna Mathiesen tutored at the workshop.


We went on site visits to pioneers who have operated  in extraordinary manners on the fringe of Reykjavík for a long time:

Ólafur Sigurðsson, architect and a pioneer living in a greenhouse

Þorsteinn Sigmundsson, an innovative farmer by Elliðavatn

And several other people from different from disciplines contributed with lectures and seminars:

Trausti Valsson, professor in Environmental Engineering, University of Iceland

Salvör Jónsdóttir, previously the director of the Planning Office of the City of Reykjavik

Auður Ottesen, a gardner, educator and a publisher (The Sommerhouse and the Garden)

Morten Lange, the leader of The Bycicle Association

Línus Orri Gunnarsson Cederborg,  an anarchist squatter

Massimo Santanicchia, a part time lecturer and an architect

Jeremy Till, professor and deat at the Central St. Martins in London


Click on the images to see the briefs and projects:

The food scenario

The food scenario:

by María Kristín Kristjánsdóttir and Helga B. Kjerúlf

The water scenario

by Hlynur Axelsson, Heiðdís Helgadóttir and Aron Freyr Leifsson

The mobility scenario
by: Axel Kaaber, Arnheiður Ófeigsdóttir and Liesa Marie Hugler
The dwelling scenario

The dwelling scenario

by Siurlín Rós Steinbergsdóttir, Jón Valur Jónsson and Laufey Jakobsdóttir

In Icelandic


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