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architecture Kirkjusandur apartments

Building Blocks

“Our city belongs to all of us. It’s so much more than a collection of buildings.” To architect Jórunn Ragnarsdóttir, a city is an organic entity, a collaboration between the architects who design its buildings and the inhabitants who populate them and traverse the streets between them. Jórunn is one of Iceland’s most respected architects

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Þóra Hjörleifsdóttir rithöfundur

A Difficult Read

Every New Year’s Eve for a decade, Þóra Hjörleifsdóttir made the resolution to write a book. It took a while, but in 2019, Magma was published – a harrowing story about how a young woman loses herself within the confines of an emotionally abusive relationship affected by the pornification of society. It was published in […]

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Þórólfur Guðnason

Doctor’s Orders

Over the past 18 months, Þórólfur Guðnason has gone from quasi-anonymous medicine man to bona fide historical figure. Along with Director of Health Alma Möller and Director of Civil Protection and Emergency Management Víðir Reynisson, Þórólfur forms the so-called “troika” – the face of the government’s response to COVID-19. He’s Iceland’s Anthony Fauci: the imperturbable voice of reason and restraint. It’s a complicated role predicated mainly on credibility, demanding a certain immaculateness when it comes to personal precautionary measures.

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State Of The Artist

THE PLUMBER For many years, the minimalist composer Philip Glass worked as a plumber. He did this not only before he started composing but also alongside his music work. Once, while installing a dishwasher in a SoHo loft, he glanced up to see the art critic of Time Magazine, Robert Hughes, looking down at him […]

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Seyðisfjörður

In Due Force

Autumn’s gauze curtain On Sunday, October 3, Hlöðver Hlöðversson stared into a camera in Northeast Iceland. He wore a cream-coloured cap, a grey jacket, and a stern expression. Behind him, there was mist and marshland – only that marshland would not have been an accurate description of the landscape a few days previous. “Is this […]

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Facing North

The Arctic Circle Assembly took place in Harpa last October. Dignitaries from all over the world attended the event, filling up the conference centre with important-looking people in suits, younger people in tighter-fitting suits handing them papers, and slightly-more-dishevelled people with backpacks poring over figures and data with a look of concern.

The doyen at the helm of this event, which even now, when a global pandemic is raging, brings more than 1,500 in-person participants from over 50 countries to Reykjavík, is Iceland’s former president for over two decades, Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson. The Assembly was cancelled in 2020, but this year, Ólafur Ragnar sent out invites for a party.

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Closer to the Stars

The Savage Mountain When John Snorri Sigurjónsson was 14 years old, he flipped open a magazine and fell in love with a mountain. “From that point onward,” he would later remark, “there was only one mountain in my eyes.” He may have been referring to an article from 1987, which ran under the heading “Suicide […]

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I Only Think About You In Long Sentences

You dumped me during a recession. You’d just lost your job at the ad agency. You said you needed to make a radical change in your life, you’d run aground, were stranded, it was over, and yet, you said, you wanted to part on good terms and before I could think whether I wanted to […]

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Building Bridges

Would you believe me if I told you that Icelandic is not a particularly unique language? Or that it’s not in immediate danger of dying out? What if I told you it’s not a “small” language at all? And what if I insisted that Icelandic is well on its way to conquering the digital world? […]

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Head in the Cloud

WHEN URBANISATION HAPPENED, IT DIDN’T DESTROY THE COUNTRYSIDE, IT’S STILL THERE BUT IT DOESN’T DICTATE OUR BEHAVIOURAL PATTERNS LIKE IT USED TO. NOW WE’RE ENTERING THE CLOUD BUT THE CITY WILL REMAIN. WE’LL GO TO CAFES AND GO TO WORK BUT THE FOUNDATIONAL RECOGNITION OF OUR EXISTENCE WILL NOT BE BASED ON THE STREET WE […]

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The Night Watch

During the summer solstice, construction workers pave new roads in the night. It’s late June. The skies are clear. The yellow vests are grimy. Above the banks of lake Þingvallavatn, a crew of men are laying asphalt – working on a stretch of road maybe a kilometre long. As the dump trucks come and go, […]

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Living Memory

Fifty kilometres [30mi] southwest of Rauðavatn lake, far beyond the din of the city, is a town that is not only a town, but also a memory of one – a memory that its townspeople endeavour to conserve, each in their own way, each according to their own design. Some come looking for context, others for narrative, and a few come looking only for peace.
They find it here, some of them. By the sea. Among the birds. In the quiet.

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