Design of New Prison in Reykjavík Determined Skip to content

Design of New Prison in Reykjavík Determined

Arkís architects were announced as winners of a competition on the design of a new prison on Hólmsheiði on the outskirts of Reykjavík yesterday. The design is to be completed by early 2013, after which construction is scheduled to start. The new prison is to open in mid-2015.


The winning design. A screenshot from the jury’s conclusion.

Minister of the Interior Ögmundur Jónasson celebrated this milestone, declaring “the tragic journey for half a century” to be over, referring to the fact that the government first decided to build a prison in the capital region in 1960, Morgunblaðið reports.

The construction of a new prison has long been called for, with the country’s current detention facilities being overfilled and convicts waiting to serve their sentences. Ögmundur said that the project is now finally on the right track.

The new prison on Hólmsheiði will be approximately 3,700 square meters in size with room for 56 cells. It is to accommodate those serving custody sentences, shorter sentences and substitute punishment, including reception facilities and a ward for female prisoners.

The building will thus replace the detention facilities at Hegningarhúsið in central Reykjavík, the women’s prison in Kópavogur and the custody ward at Litla-Hraun near Eyrarbakki, the country’s maximum security prison.

There were 18 entries in the competition, ten of which came from abroad. The top three designs were all by Icelandic architects.

The jury’s description of the winning entry includes that the main observation post is “a cylinder surrounded by daylight” and “inside gardens”—fenced-off spaces included in each ward for outdoor activities and in some cases a view to the gardens outside.

There will also be alcoves inside the cells that provide each detainee with a view and daylight while limiting the view so that they cannot see the next prison cell.

It is assumed that the outer walls be sheeted by corten steel, although the material must be considered in closer detail, for example with regards to the cost of construction.

Click here to read more about the prison housing crisis.


Sign up for our weekly newsletter

Get news from Iceland, photos, and in-depth stories delivered to your inbox every week!

* indicates required

Subscribe to Iceland Review

In-depth stories and high-quality photography showcasing life in Iceland!

Share article