ACTORS

In the context of the built environment everybody are actors. The actors have different roles and they are active to a varying degree. There has been a significant change in the way the the built environment is used and managed since the meltdown.

It is fair to assume that this is related to the change in perception of this very environment, which occurred on the day it all happened, October 6th 2008. As described by an interview object:

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” We were driving home in our great SUV. I had picked up the children and my wife form work (usually she was driving her own car to work downtown, but that day the car was in for service). We were on the highway on the road towards our neighborhood. It would be nice to come home to our big and nice house on the hill, with the high ceiling and the perfect view to the glacier.  The new house was almost finished, with the sound system elegantly hiding in the walls and the slick kitchen smoothly integrated into the living room…just waiting for final dash; the Italian designer lamps…still.The sweet music from the car radio was suddenly interrupted: The prime minister  was on the air.

He sounded serious, we pulled into the side of the road, and listened.

The basic message was basically that the Icelandic state could be facing bankruptcy. Something entirely different form what we had been led to believe after years of great economic growth. The speech ended with these words: “God bless Iceland”. (Dramatic, considering talk about God being a tabu in Icelandic public discourse).

We were on our own. The physical environment was the same, but it was different, including the house of our dreams, which from this day turned into a nightmare.”

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The change of perception was thoroughly intertwined with the economy. Too many resources had been spent on stuff which in a second transformed  from a dream in the making, to a burden; financial distress (greiðsluvandi) and negative equity in property (neikvæð eiginfjárstaða i húsnæði) making the the built environment inappropriate and hard to use and manage as planned during times of abundance.

Furthermore, the previous role models, so called finance vikings who apparently had contributed to so much economic growth and prosperity, turned into crooks overnight. Superfluous lifestyles, big homes and huge cars became less attractive. The word 2007 (twothousandandseven) turned into a negative adjective describing things that were bigger than necessary and more expensive than necessary.

These changes triggered many new kinds of actions in the population and it put new focus on many of their roles.

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