Deep North Episode 11: One Night in Gufunes

iceland hip hip birnir

It is honesty, full-throated and vulnerable, which elevates Birnir’s music above that of other contemporary rappers in Iceland. That and some excellent production. Bushido, Birnir’s latest work, is a culmination of certain developments in contemporary hip-hop in Iceland; one is inclined to agree. To put one’s finger on the appeal of the album requires, perhaps, some basic theorising on the phenomenon of music – and the power it exercises over a person’s emotions.

In episode 11 of Deep North, we talk about hip-hop, family, and what makes Birnir tick. Read the full story here.

 

FÚSK Art Collective Looks for New Home

fúsk art collective reykjavík

DIY art collective, FÚSK, is on the look for a new home.

Gufunes, a former industrial area near the capital, has for some years been the location of film production company Reykjavík Studios, in addition to several other art projects and collectives. The City of Reykjavík has offered abandoned industrial facilities at the site to artists and creative workers who would like to develop them into studios and workspaces. However, despite the initial welcome art projects have received in this area, many are now being forced to relocate.

FÚSK leases a de-commissioned fertilizer factory from the City of Reykavík. In a public statement on social media, FÚSK members pointed out unfavourable leasing conditions from the City of Reykjavík, in addition to increasing restrictions. FÚSK has, for instance, been restricted from working with the film industry and from holding further events.

Elsa Jónsdóttir, a co-founder of FÚSK, stated: “We went into FÚSK not having anything, water, electricity, or plumbing. It made every 100 per cent harder, but we also learned a lot. I became so invested in some of the projects we had in Gufunes, I just hope the city fights to keep some of them alive.”

Elsa also praised the city for some of its support for artists during the COVID-19 pandemic but suggested a lack of planning. “We saw all this support for artists during COVID,” she said. “But once it was over, they just pulled out the rug from under us. I don’t think there was a very long-term plan. Even though the city has tried to support youth culture and the arts through initiatives, we don’t always see it in practice.”

The future of FÚSK is still very much up in the air, but organizers have stated their openness to many different possibilities, including a possible relocation to the countryside.

The Gufunes area is slated for an urban renewal project, with plans to construct a swimming pool, a preschool, steam baths, and an underwater restaurant.

One Night in Gufunes

Geoffrey SkywalkerGeoffrey “Skywalker” pulls up in a Hertz moving truck in front of the FÚSK warehouse in East Reykjavík. He’s dressed in skinny jeans and white sneakers, wearing a black, longsleeved shirt featuring an ornery-seeming Rottweiler. (He’s a dog person.)A fixture of the hip-hop scene in Iceland since he was younger, Geoffrey hustled his way […]

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Underwater Restaurant, Swimming Pool, and Preschool Planned for Gufunes Neighbourhood

Gufunesbryggja Yrki arkitektar

Sea bathing facilities, a swimming pool, a preschool, a packaging-free grocery store, and an underwater restaurant are all projects that will soon be built in the developing Gufunes neighbourhood in eastern Reykjavík, RÚV reports. Reykjavík City Council has approved the development proposal submitted by Þorpið-Vistfélag that won a competition for the design of Gufunes pier.

Industrial neighbourhood reinvented

“This area is changing from being an old, dead industrial neighbourhood to being very lively,” stated Áslaug Guðrúnardóttir, chief communications and marketing officer of Þorpið-Vistfélag. “Our proposal is to construct two buildings there that will open onto the old Gufunes pier. The idea is to […] have sea bathing facilities there, have a swimming pool and hot tubs, apartments, and there will be a restaurant there that has already been designed and it will be partly underwater. We will have a preschool there and a grocery store, and it will all be in the same style.”

Áslaug expects the project to be completed in the next three to five years. Renderings of the design can be seen below.

The Gufunes area was long the site of a fertiliser plant and waste-sorting facilities, but since those operations have left the area, it has seen significant development. For some years, Gufunes has been the location of film production company Reykjavík Studios, which is now expanding its facilities at the site. The City of Reykjavík has offered abandoned industrial facilities at the site to artists and creative workers who would like to develop them into studios and workspaces.

Water taxi would shorten trip to city centre

Þorpið-Vistfélag has already built an environmentally-friendly residential neighbourhood in Gufunes. It made headlines, however, when some residents complained of the poor quality of the buildings and the lack of public transportation to and from the site (particularly as the units were advertised as “sustainable”).

Áslaug mentioned ideas to construct a pedestrian bridge out to nearby Viðey island, from which a water taxi would be available to the city centre. Travelling from Gufunes to the city centre by land is a significantly longer trip, as it requires going around an inlet.

Two Additional Film Studios to Rise in Reykjavík

Katla Netflix

Reykjavík Studios Purchases a 4,000 square metre building in the Gufunes district of Reykjavík yesterday in which the company plans to build two state-of-the-art film studios, RÚV reports. Director Baltasar Kormákur says that when renovations are completed, it will be possible to film blockbusters like Harry Potter in Iceland. The project is expected to cost around ISK 1 billion, [$7.7 million; €7 million], and Baltasar hopes it will be completed by the end of the year.

Baltasar’s production company Reykjavík Studios has made a name for itself with many successful television series and films, including Trapped and Katla. The company already has a studio next door to the purchased building, where this year’s Söngvakeppnin competition was filmed. That studio is one of the largest in Europe, and too big for certain projects, according to Baltasar, which is why the new building will be split into two smaller film studios. “There will be a sound-proof wall between them, and there will be two smaller studios that will be more useful for the Icelandic film industry than [our other studio].”

The new studios could also house concerts and events, Baltasar says, but there is much work to be done before that will be possible. “I’m hoping I can put it to use this year,” Baltasar stated. “We are ready to go all-in into construction.”

The studio’s success depends on the government fulfilling its promises regarding reimbursement of film production costs. The current government policy provides a 25% reimbursement of all filming production costs incurred in Iceland, both for local and international production companies.

Reykjavík to Develop New Creative Industry District

gufunes

Creative workers in Reykjavík will soon have 6,000 square metres [64,600 sq ft] of workspaces offered to them in a district the city hopes to develop into a creative hub. RÚV reports that the city will invite artists to pay what they can to rent facilities in Reykjavík’s Gufunes district and develop them into studios and creative workspaces of all sorts.

Gufunes, located in northeast Reykjavík, originally housed a state-owned fertiliser plant but is currently used by waste management company Íslenska gámafélagið. The waste company is now moving its operations elsewhere and the City of Reykjavík has decided to convert the soon-empty buildings into workspaces for creatives of all stripes.

A village of creative industry

“I can’t word it any other way than here an old dream is coming to life,” Reykjavík Mayor Dagur B. Eggertsson stated. He pointed out that there is already a creative community in the district. “There is a strong film studio here by international standards, RVK Studios [creator of TV show Trapped], the country’s main filmmaking companies have already settled here. There are also certain artists that have been here for years. Now we’re advertising just over 1,000 square metres [10,800 sq ft] that artists, creative companies, entrepreneurs, and start-ups can apply for because in Gufunes we imagine the development of a whole neighbourhood, a village of creative industries, which we hope will get to be a little raw and different.”

Director Baltasar Kormákur, owner of RVK Studios says he is excited to acquire creative neighbours. “It’s the dream to create facilities for all kinds of arts […] having creative artists around awakens the creativity in filmmaking and vice versa. It also creates employment for artists that often don’t receive a lot of income through their work, so it works very well together.”

Artists pay what they can in rent

The facilities that Íslenska gámafélagið is leaving behind range from deteriorated warehouses to fully-equipped office space. Instead of renting it to the highest bidder, Dagur says applicants will be able to propose what they pay for the spaces. “These are spaces that people take on as they are. They are very raw and a lot needs to be done. We really want to have several-year contracts and that people can do what they need with the rooms.” Dagur explained. “I think we’re just seeing the beginning of something very exciting,” Dagur stated.

An eco-friendly housing development for young people and first-time buyers is also planned for the area.