Edda Centre for Icelandic Studies Wins Design Award

Edda Centre for Icelandic Studies

The University of Iceland’s new Centre for Icelandic Studies, called Edda, has won the 2023 Icelandic Design Award in the “Place” category. The jury called the building “characteristic and impressive” and praised the attention to detail in its design. Edda will soon house an exhibition of Iceland’s most valuable manuscripts that will be open to all.

“Edda, the new Centre for Icelandic Studies, is a characteristic and impressive building,” the jury statement reads. “The project was carried out with professionalism, artistry, and attention to every detail inside and out. The oval shape and unique texture of the exterior suggest the value of its contents. The building stands in a shallow, reflective pool and the outside is clad with a copper shell with stylized copies of text from manuscripts, which both decorate the walls and spark curiosity about what lives within. Edda is a bright and open building where beautiful courtyards give the interior spaces air and light.”

Open Books: The New Centre for Icelandic Studies

Edda was designed by Hornsteinar Architects. It was built to house The Árni Magnússon Institute for Icelandic Studies, several University of Iceland departments concerning Icelandic language and literature, and an exhibition of the Árni Magnússon Institute’s manuscript collection that will be open to all.


New Centre for Icelandic Studies, Edda, Gets Bad Reception

Edda Centre for Icelandic Studies

Edda, the recently completed Centre for Icelandic Studies, gets no mobile phone reception is several spots throughout the building due to its distinctive copper siding.

Kristinn Jóhannesson, director of operations and technology at the University of Iceland stated to RÚV that it was an unfortunate but understandable growing pain for the new building.

Edda had been in the works for some time, only opening earlier this year to the public. Plans for the new facility, which will house Iceland’s priceless collection of medieval manuscripts, were approved in 2005. However, the banking collapse and several other setbacks delayed the project. By 2013, it was defunded by the then-sitting government, only to be taken up again in 2016, and construction properly resuming in 2019.

The new centre, which will additionally serve as a home for literary studies and Icelandic language teaching, is notable for its distinct architectural style. On the outside of the building, excerpts from medieval manuscripts are stamped on the copper façade. However, it is exactly this modern and striking design that is now causing problems for the new building, with areas throughout the building without mobile reception, according to RÚV.

Kristinn stated to RÚV that the university has received some complaints regarding the matter, but he’s hopeful a solution will be found. He also stated that the staff is still settling in to the new building, and it’s difficult to tell so far how pleased university workers and students are with the new facilities.

Classes in Edda are set to begin in the new year, and Kristinn states that several other kinks are currently being ironed out, such as lighting and settings for the heating and ventilation.

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12,000 Guests Visit New Centre for Icelandic Studies

Edda Centre for Icelandic Studies

The inauguration of the University of Iceland’s new Centre for Icelandic Studies last Thursday proved to be well-attended, with 12,000 guests stopping by to visit the state-of-the-art building that will soon house Iceland’s most valuable Medieval manuscripts. To celebrate its completion, the new centre hosted an open house on April 20 last week, the First Day of Summer.

At the inauguration, Minister of Culture and Trade Lilja Alfreðsdóttir revealed the name of the new Centre: Edda. The name references both the Prose and Poetic Edda, seminal works in the study of Old Norse poetry and is also a woman’s name in modern Icelandic. The name was chosen from some 1,500 submissions. Lilja explained that the winning name is both uniquely Icelandic and internationally known, referencing the centre’s function while also complementing other building names on the University of Iceland campus.

Edda Centre for Icelandic Studies
Golli. Edda, the new Centre for Icelandic Studies.

The University of Iceland’s Árni Magnússon Institute is in the process of moving its operations into the new centre, which will house the institute’s collection of Medieval Icelandic manuscripts as well as featuring specially-designed rooms for conservation, research, and exhibition of the artefacts. A library, café, lecture halls, and classrooms will also be part of the facilities.

Edda Centre for Icelandic Studies
Golli. Edda, the new Centre for Icelandic Studies.

The Icelandic Parliament originally decided to finance the building of the centre in 2005, but the construction faced several delays, most recently due to the COVID-19 pandemic.