FOJAB wins international open competition: Designing a neighborhood in Iceland

The City of Reykjavik aims to set a completely new standard in urban development with the Keldur district. The Swedish architectural firm FOJAB with the consultant Ramböll won the open international strategic development competition with their proposal Crafting Keldur - Where Art, Science & Recreation Unite.

The task in the international competition was to create a development strategy for the Keldur district in eastern Reykjavik. Currently, the area is primarily rural, but it has been identified as a development zone and will be serviced in a few years by a high-quality bus rapid transit system connecting it to the city centerand other hot spots in the Reykjavik capital Area. According to the City of Reykjavik, the new neighborhood should be characterized by walkability, energy transition, healthy mobility, circular thinking, green buildings and infrastructure, and carbon sequestration.

Out of around forty submissions in stage 1, five teams were selected to further develop their ideas in stage 2. FOJAB and Ramböll secured victory with a proposal based on social diversity within a dense and flexible urban structure with proximity to nature, the university, and the city center.

- Starting with climate neutrality and climate considerations places special demands on urban planning. The kind of dense mixed-use development we arrived at is quite uncommon in Iceland. The architecture in our proposal adheres to a human scale - three to five stories - but is dense and connected enough to create a vibrant and dynamic city, said Magdalena Hedman, partner and teamleader at FOJAB.

The jury was particularly impressed by the fact that FOJAB's proposal is firmly rooted in the local context and takes advantage of the landscape's greenery and water features. The efficient use of land, innovative mobility ideas, and a flexible neighborhood structure were also appealing. The strategies for achieving a social mix were considered compelling as well.

- The winning entry in the competition is a very good answer to our needs and requirements in a new urban quarter in Reykjavik. An urban district, close to nature, with three Bus Rapid Transit (Borgarlína) stations as the backbone of sustainable urban transport. We look forward to the further development and deeper design of an excellent proposal in the planning process ahead, said Thorsteinn R. Hermannsson, Director of Development at TfCA, Transport for the Capital Area.

The next step will be to further develop the winning proposal into a development plan and physical plans.