Repairs are finally underway on the Church of Akureyri following vandalism to the building facade two and a half years ago. RÚV reports that repairs are expected to cost over ISK 20 million ($163,863/€147,366).
Residents in the North Iceland town of Akureyri woke one morning in January 2017 to find that four churches had been defaced with hateful slogans and symbols. While it wasn’t difficult for the graffiti to be painted over at three of the churches, the stone cladding of the Church of Akureyri absorbed the paint, making it impossible to effectively cover the damage without major repairs. The church is a major local landmark, having been designed by Guðjón Samúelsson, the same architect who designed Hallgrímskirkja in Reykjavík. As such, its exterior has protected status, making it both complicated and time-consuming to locate the right materials to repair it. Church leaders are now waiting for 14.5 tons of special stone cladding to be delivered so that they can begin repairs in earnest.
“The material is coming, in part, from Norway,” says Gestur Jónsson, the treasurer of the Church of Akureyri council. The council will receive feldspar and obsidian from abroad, but still needs to source Iceland spar as well, in order to match the blend of stones that was originally used in the siding. Once the church acquires the proper mix of stone, master masons will remove the vandalised siding from the church walls and replace it with the new.
The expense of replacing the stone siding will not be funded using parishioners’ congregation taxes. So far, the Church of Akureyri has received ISK 9.5 million ($77,907/€69,887) to fund repairs, which will cover repairs to half of the church, including the towers and the southern side. The council’s plan is to continue raising funds and be able to finish repairs to the northern side of the church next summer, thereby avoiding any major visible differences to the texture of the stone.