Hlemmur, Food Market

© Elísabet Hugrún Georgsdóttir

Food Market in Hlemmur, Reykjavík

The project aims to create an architectural intervention in a central square in Reykjavik, Hlemmur, in order to connect Reykjavík's cultural and historical center to the west, to the large commercial area to the east, revitalize the city’s main street Laugavegur, and reinvent the square as one of Reykjavik's main meeting places.


The program, food market, creates a link between the city and countryside, as well as a connection to Hlemmur’s history. It aims to attract people from both sides of the square, thus supporting the square’s function as an important focal point in Reykjavík.



Reykjavík is turning its back on the old-fashioned urban planning that prioritized the private car, that resulted in a enourmously spread city, and focuses now on densifying the city within its current boundaries, activate the existing urban spaces and create more life in the streets.


Hlemmur is a central square with a long history. Over a hundred years ago, the only bridge that crossed the river that prevented traffic to Reykjavik, was placed in Hlemmur, so the square could have been seen as the gate to Reykjavík, the meeting point between the city and countryside.


In Reykjavík today, the former meeting point between the city and countryside could be interpreted and recreated as an authentic food market that would link the city center to the countryside. A quality food market, could be able to attract people from Reykjavik's old city center to the west and people from the new business area to the east, and thus help to connect the two different areas of the city.


Project idea

Hlemmur is to be an exciting place in a constant evolvement. The structure is folded into a new landscape, in a combination of indoor and outdoor spaces, that can be opened and closed as needed. By folding the structure into the landscape, the square’s pedestrian traffic is motivated to travel in exciting routes over and through the building. This will emphasize the building’s function as a public space which various, different activities.


Hlemmur’s role in the urban landscape - Cartographic Studies

Initial cartographic studies of Hlemmur’s neighborhood and site’s location in the urban landscape, combined with sketches of both existing and potential connections in the area, were transformed into a continuous film of surfaces, that folded into one another in an endless stream of connections, that followed the area's rhythm and development in scale, from the small scale and tighter rhythm in the historic center to the west, to the larger scale and slower rhythm in the newer commercial area to the east. The square Hlemmur was located centrally in the foil, as a possible focal point that sought to grab the surrounding areas and link them together.


Elements from the foil of Hlemmur’s surroundings, were fitted into the square, where they were further developed in the meeting with the square's existing flows and structures. Then they were transformed into a horizontal landscape, to create contrast to the three narrow and densely built streets that form the square, and to emphasize the experience of the square as an open space. The collision between the foil and the realities of site created an unpredictable structure that added something new and unforeseen to the place, that still managed to create a context with its surroundings.



The architectural intervention’s intertwined harmony between form and program on the square Hlemmur, is to create an important focal point in the urban landscape, a creative and challenging meeting place, meet Reykjavík's longing for a food market, and revitalize the area, in favor of a more modern environmentally friendly and humane city.


Selvprogrammed project, spring 2014.


© Elísabet Hugrún Georgsdóttir - All rights reserved.