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Competition: Governmental Quarter, Reykjavík

The Icelandic government has launched a pair of open international contests to remasterplan Reykjavík’s main governmental quarter and extend the prime minister’s offices (Deadline: 18 September)

The competitions, run in partnership with the Association of Icelandic Architects, seek ‘holistic’ proposals to rethink the Icelandic capital’s main bureaucratic zone as well as a concept for a 1,200m² extension to the prime minister’s residence.

The Icelandic government currently occupies around 28,500m² of existing buildings in the city’s downtown area overlooking the harbour, with key structures including the parliament house and various departments and judicial courts. The prime minister’s offices are meanwhile situated next to nearby Arnarhóll Park overlooking the main Lækjargata boulevard.

The Prime Minister’s Offices in Reykjavík

The Prime Minister’s Offices in Reykjavík

Source: Image by Guðmundur D Haraldsson

The Prime Minister’s Offices in Reykjavík

According to the brief: ‘On behalf of the Prime Minister’s Office, the central public procurement in Iceland, hereby extends to an open invitation to a planning competition for The Governmental Quarter in the centre of Reykjavík.

’The existing land use plan allows approximately an addition of 24,000m2 of new buildings. The future operations of the governmental quarter consist of three main operations: namely ministries, state agencies and courts. The objective of the competition is to produce a progressive, holistic and sustainable land use plan for the governmental quarter.’

Governmental Quarter, Reykjavík

Governmental Quarter, Reykjavík

Governmental Quarter, Reykjavík

Reykjavík is the capital of Iceland and home to around 123,000 of the country’s 344,000 population. It is thought to be one of the most environmentally friendly and safe cities in the world.

Key landmarks include the waterfront HARPA Concert Hall by Henning Larsen Architects and Guðjón Samúelsson’s iconic 1986 Hallgrímskirkja church named after the Icelandic poet and clergyman Hallgrímur Pétursson.

Iceland’s parliament building, known as the Alþingishúsið, occupies a prominent site next to the city’s main public square, Austurvöllur. The 1881 Classically-styled stone structure was designed by Danish architect Ferdinand Meldahl.

The latest competitions aim to remasterplan the city’s main legislative area and also create a 1,200m² extension to the prime minister’s Stjórnarráðið headquarters. The competition language is Icelandic and documents are available in Icelandic only.

How to apply

Deadline

The Governmental Quarter deadline for applications is 14:59 local time on 18 September and the Prime Minister’s Offices deadline for applications is 14:59 local time on 25 September

Contact details

Rikiskaup (Central Public Procurement)
Borgartun 7c
Reykjavik
105
Iceland

Tel: +354 5301400
Email: utbod@rikiskaup.is
Fax: +354 5301414 

View the Governmental Quarter and Prime Minister’s Offices contract notices for more information

Regjeringskvartalet case study: Q&A with Gudmund Stokke

The head of design at Nordic – Office of Architecture discusses lessons learned designing a new competition-winning governmental quarter for Oslo

Gudmund Stokke

Gudmund Stokke

Gudmund Stokke

How will your project upgrade and transform the main governmental district of Oslo?

The government district in Oslo was severely damaged in a terrorist attack in 2011, and the new project seeks to heal this rift in the city. The aim is to create an attractive, vibrant, friendly and efficient workplace for the departments, that communicates Norwegian values of transparency and democracy.

The 150,000m² project consists of seven major buildings in the centre of Oslo city and the project seeks to stitch this in with the rest of the city by improving connections, creating new parks, streets and squares and by respecting the scale and character of the city. The new plan balances the need for a secure and safe environment, with creating an open and inviting city. Security measures are incorporated in a discreet way whilst allowing for active frontages where possible.

Regjeringskvartalet by Team Urbis: Nordic – Office of Architecture, with Haptic Architects, in collaboration with COWI, Aas-Jacobsen, Ing Per Rasmussen, Rambøll, SLA, Bjørbekk & Lindheim and sub consultants Scenario, NIKU, DIFK and Norsam

Regjeringskvartalet by Team Urbis: Nordic – Office of Architecture, with Haptic Architects, in collaboration with COWI, Aas-Jacobsen, Ing Per Rasmussen, Rambøll, SLA, Bjørbekk & Lindheim and sub consultants Scenario, NIKU, DIFK and Norsam

Regjeringskvartalet by Team Urbis: Nordic – Office of Architecture, with Haptic Architects, in collaboration with COWI, Aas-Jacobsen, Ing Per Rasmussen, Rambøll, SLA, Bjørbekk & Lindheim and sub-consultants Scenario, NIKU, DIFK and Norsam

Which architectural, material, visual and other methods did you harness in your design?

We did a thorough mapping of what Norwegian values and democracy mean in Norway and how this might shape our architectural response. In addition, we studied the urban grain, connections, material palette and colour tones of the city of Oslo. This was instrumental in developing our response, which incorporated a series of large-footprint, medium-rise blocks. It was important to us to try to steer clear of fads and fashion; these are buildings that need to stand the test of time.

Regjeringskvartalet by Team Urbis: Nordic – Office of Architecture, with Haptic Architects, in collaboration with COWI, Aas-Jacobsen, Ing Per Rasmussen, Rambøll, SLA, Bjørbekk & Lindheim and sub consultants Scenario, NIKU, DIFK and Norsam

Regjeringskvartalet by Team Urbis: Nordic – Office of Architecture, with Haptic Architects, in collaboration with COWI, Aas-Jacobsen, Ing Per Rasmussen, Rambøll, SLA, Bjørbekk & Lindheim and sub consultants Scenario, NIKU, DIFK and Norsam

Regjeringskvartalet by Team Urbis: Nordic – Office of Architecture, with Haptic Architects, in collaboration with COWI, Aas-Jacobsen, Ing Per Rasmussen, Rambøll, SLA, Bjørbekk & Lindheim and sub-consultants Scenario, NIKU, DIFK and Norsam

The project is very complex with a number of strict requirements relating to functional relationships, security, programme, and so on. Placing equal emphasis on the functional planning and the architectural resolution was a key factor in our success. Otherwise the submission was fairly straightforward with regards to CGIs, physical models, drawings etc.

What advice would you have to contest participants on re-masterplanning the governmental quarter of Reykjavik?

Spend time ensuring that you really understand the brief. Get under the skin and understand the minutiae of the programme requirements, so that you can tackle the big picture in a knowledgeable way. Visit the site and spend time learning about local conditions, the city, the character of the place and so on. Understand the client needs in order to create the future-oriented workplace for generations of bureaucrats to come. The buildings should be dignified and timeless, and should be a physical manifestation of the Icelandic democracy.

Regjeringskvartalet by Team Urbis: Nordic – Office of Architecture, with Haptic Architects, in collaboration with COWI, Aas-Jacobsen, Ing Per Rasmussen, Rambøll, SLA, Bjørbekk & Lindheim and sub consultants Scenario, NIKU, DIFK and Norsam

Regjeringskvartalet by Team Urbis: Nordic – Office of Architecture, with Haptic Architects, in collaboration with COWI, Aas-Jacobsen, Ing Per Rasmussen, Rambøll, SLA, Bjørbekk & Lindheim and sub consultants Scenario, NIKU, DIFK and Norsam

Regjeringskvartalet by Team Urbis: Nordic – Office of Architecture, with Haptic Architects, in collaboration with COWI, Aas-Jacobsen, Ing Per Rasmussen, Rambøll, SLA, Bjørbekk & Lindheim and sub-consultants Scenario, NIKU, DIFK and Norsam

Q&A with Stefan Thors

The architect and planner at the Icelandic Prime Minister’s Office discusses his ambitions for the competition

Stefan Thors

Stefan Thors

Stefan Thors

Why are your holding an open international competition to remasterplan Reykjavik’s governmental quarter?

For decades there have been plans to locate the ministries in this area, and the government has bought lots and houses to secure the area for later development. Today six out of nine ministries are located in the area and none of them are in houses built for the purpose. The Prime Ministers Office (PMO) took the initiative to prepare a policy for the area, and on the occasion of 100 years of sovereignty in Iceland in 2018, the Parliament decided in 2016 to hold an open international competition. New houses have not been built in the quarter for a long time and there are many empty lots used for parking. There are many opportunities and to get the best out of this important area it was decided to hold the competition.

What is your vision for the new governmental quarter?

The governmental quarter is an area of 4ha in the centre of Reykjavík near the Harpa Music Hall (an architectural monument). The vision of the project is to improve/enhance the environment and aim for an effective structure where the ministries and national agencies can have secure and convenient offices owned by the state. The aim is also to create an interesting and flexible place of work with architectural innovation, sharing of meeting rooms, sustainable solutions and good contact to the public life in the centre of the city. Two ministries that are now located in other parts of Reykjavik in rented buildings will be moving to the quarter. The Prime Ministers Office will though remain in the same 1770 building nearby the governmental quarter.

What sort of architects and designers are you hoping will apply?

The planning competition is a first and very important step in the build-up of the area. Therefore we are hoping for a wide range of participation from unknown talents to established architects. 1 December 2018 marks 100 years since Iceland got sovereignty from Denmark, and on that day the prime minister will open an exhibition open to the public where all the proposals can be seen with the review of the judges. Since there has never been built a special building for a ministry, we believe that will encourage media exposure.

Which other design opportunities are on the horizon and how will the architects/designers be procured?

Those who get the first prize in the competition will get the task to complete the plan for the quarter in consultation with PMO and Reykjavik local authority. Based on the financial situation, the next step will be to hold a competition for the first new building/buildings.

Are there any other similar governmental quarter projects you have been impressed by?

The judges and organisers will be visiting Oslo next week to look at how the Norwegians are planning their governmental quarter both aesthetically but also regarding security matters. 

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