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MOVING REYKJAVÍK Analysing and Transforming a Culture of Mobility

Sigurborg Ósk Haraldsdóttir The Oslo School of Architecture and Design Master of Landscape Architecture Spring 2012


IMPRINT This Master’s Thesis was written in the spring semester 2012 by

Sigurborg Ósk Haraldsdóttir, under the supervision of Alf Haukeland. Additional supervisors were Giambattista Zaccariotto and Geir Nummedal.

The background research and the program for this Master’s Thesis was

written in the Autumn semester 2011, supervised by Peter Hemmersam. It was submitted on the 9th of May 2012 for the partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of:

Master of Landscape Architecture Oslo School of Architecture and Design

Arkitektur- og Designhøgskolen i Oslo, AHO Institute of Urbanism and Landscape Institutt for urbanisme og landskap

Copyright © 2012 Sigurborg Ósk Haraldsdóttir Arkitektur- og Designhøgskolen i Oslo Maridalsveien 29, 0175 Oslo Norway

Cover and document layout by the author. Typeset in Helvetica Neue and Cambria.


Printed and bound in Oslo, Norway.

MOVING REYKJAVÍK Analysing and Transforming a Culture of Mobility

Sigurborg Ósk Haraldsdóttir Master of Landscape Architecture Spring 2012



Til mรถmmu og pabba Takk



ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS Jónína María Sveinbjarnardóttir, Kolbrún Guðríður Haraldsdóttir,

Sveinbjörn Kári Haraldsson and María Theodórsdóttir, all for taking great photos. Birnir Kjartan Einarsson for excellent IT help, Róbert

Þór Haraldsson for great guidance, Björn Ingi Edvarsson for a lot of

help and access to information, Erna Bára Hreinsdóttir for help, Peter Hemmersam for inspiring and encouriging guidance, Snædís Laufey

Bjarnardóttir for good help, Charmaine Crowe for proof reading, Paul

Patrick Donnelly for helping me all the way, and Björn Hákon Sveinsson og Sveinn Jörundur Björnsson for being my heart and soul.



Infrastructure’s long-term value, whether used or disused, is tied to a place. It is a local and material response to societal and economic challenges. Today we spend so much time immersed in the mediating environments of networked society, staring at data through monitors and at highways through windshields, that we are prone to forget infrastructure’s powerfully physical nature. Sometimes we need a remnant from the past to resurface, not as a token of an imagined Golden Age, but as a reminder that the past held other ways to move and communicate, and that the future will still hold others.

Ian Baldwin

Published in Places, by The Design Observer Group



Sigurborg ร sk Haraldsdรณttir


Master’s Thesis


PRIORITISING THE CAR driven by fossil fuels

New York

Fig. 1


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Fig. 3

Car-dominated space is a global problem, which can be seen all over the world in various sizes and places. When looking at transport in urban areas one can easily see two different types of urban fabrics. There are areas that were built before the time of the car and have accommodated for it afterwards and then there are areas that from the beginning were designed for the car to be the main mode of transport. 48 % of landuse in the ReykjavĂ­k is transport infrastructure. In that figure are all roads, land dedicated to roads, parking, pavements and footpaths. It is obvious that the transport system is overscaled for the city of 200,000 inhabitants. But that infrastructure is also a valuable element that can be utilised to transform the transport network and make it more efficient and productive.


The time has come to turn things around and to address this problem, in both large and small scale, so our cities become a safer and more pleasant places to live in, and the reason why this should be done today and not tomorrow is climate change. Climate change1 is the last straw, which does not allow us to keep doing things the same way, and which forces us to think differently for it is a global problem that concerns us all. In these turbulent times, though, it is important to stay positive and see the times ahead as an ocean of possibilities, where powerful waves can push us towards safer and healthier cities with a higher quality of life, no matter whether you live in the city centre or in the suburbs. Sigurborg Ă“sk HaraldsdĂłttir

Fig. 4

Master’s Thesis

ReykjavĂ­k is the capital in Iceland, which is located right on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge between Europe and North America. Although Iceland is always considered as a part of the Nordic countries, its physical presence has many things more in common to North American cities. Almost 90% of the city was built after the Second World War and is designed for the car to be the main mode of transport, which is reflected clearly in the land use. 48% of land in the city is road infrastructure2. This results in many problems for its inhabitants such as obesity3, unsafe environment4, car accidents5, sound pollution6, air pollution7, CO2 pollution8, and poor economy due to people being dependant on cars driven by fossil fuels. But all of this can be changed. Iceland is the only country in the world that produces almost all its energy, (99.6%) from hydro and geothermal power stations9. The country has a high education level and is full of initiative and innovation. Icelanders are a creative nation that is capable of setting an example and transforming its city towards a brighter future and become an international role model .



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Harsh environment and small settlements

Fig. 5

Iceland has a population of about 320,000 and a total area of 103,000 km2. The capital and the largest city is Reykjavík with the surrounding areas in the southwestern region, Greater Reykjavík, being home to two-thirds of the country’s population. Due to the economy depending heavily on fishing, which still provides about half of its export earnings, the largest part of settlements in Iceland are located next to the seaside. The country has been settled for at least 1,100 years and possibly longer. All that time people have been living off the land and its fertile soil, surviving an unforgiving climate with wet and windy weather, and enduring volcanic activity which has in the past killed up to half of the entire nation. This harsh and rough environment has shaped the nation, making it stronger and living in harmony with nature, where nature both gives and takes.


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Fig. 6 - 23

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Sigurborg ร sk Haraldsdรณttir

CLIMATE Warm winters,wet summers and strong winds.

Iceland’s coastal climate is subpolar oceanic. The winter temperature rarely drops below -10°C, as Iceland’s coastal weather is moderated by the warm waters of the Gulf Stream.

Therefore, climate in Reykjavík is much warmer and temparate compared with other places in the world at the same latitude. The summers are cool with temperatures varing between +10°C to +15°C, and only occasionally reaching 20°C. Spring is the sunniest time, particularly in May. Yearly sunhours are around 1,300, which is similar to most of northern Europe. The highest ever recorded temperature in Reykjavík was 26.2°C recorded on 30th of July 2008, while the lowest ever recorded temperature was -24.5°C recorded on the 21th of January 1918. It rains relatively little in Reykjavík. There are approximitely 213 days with precipitation per year. Long, dry seasons are rare. Iceland is situated in the North Atlantic Ocean and at the edge of a large scale atmospheric circulation path for low pressure systems, which means that storms or gales with gusts up to 28.4 m/s are common. On average these gales occur 10 times per year. Reykjavík lies on a peninsula, exposing it to wind from three directions, and is, therefore, particularly prone to these gales.

Source: Icelandic Met Office Fig. 24

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Sigurborg ร sk Haraldsdรณttir

GEOLOGY Volcanic activity, geothermal springs and clean energy

Iceland is the youngest country in the world in geological terms and there you can be witness to the process of creation. It is one of the most active volcanic regions in the world due to its location, as it sits astride the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, where the Eurasian and North American Plates are moving apart, on a hotspot called the Iceland hotspot. Eruptions occur approximately every three years.

As well as being highly geologically active, Iceland has vast amounts of fresh, hot water. Natural geothermal springs give Iceland an unlimited supply of hot water, so most residents have access to inexpensive hot water and household heating. There are over one hundred geothermal, public swimming pools nationwide.

Iceland produces a large amount of electricity, with the highest generation capacity per capita in the world. 0.04% comes from diesel stations, 18% comes from geothermal stations and 82% comes from hydropower stations. Source: Icelandic Met Office, Landsvirkjun Fig. 25

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Sigurborg ร sk Haraldsdรณttir

BIODIVERSITY Eroded vastness and resilient vegatation

When Iceland was first settled, it was extensively forested, with mainly birch forests, but deforestation, climatic deterioration during the Little Ice Age and overgrazing

by sheep caused a loss of critical topsoil due to erosion. Today, three-quarters of Iceland’s landmass is affected by soil erosion. Eighteen thousand square kilometers is now considered eroded, so seriously as to be useless. Only a few small birch trees stand exist in isolated reserves. Planting of new forests has been undertaken for the past 100 years, and extensive soil reclaimation, with Lupinus nootkatensis, native to North America, used since 1945. The plant, though, is highly controversial and is now categorised as a harmful, invasive species. Plant life consists mainly of grassland, which is regularly grazed by livestock, and low growing, resilient vegetation, in addition to moss.

The only native land mammal in Iceland is the Arctic Fox. However, today various other mammals live wild in Iceland, such as mink, mouse, reindeer and rabbit. Birds, especially seabirds, are a very important part of Iceland’s animal life. About 330 bird species have been seen in Iceland, but only 76 are regular layers, of which 32 are classified as endangered species. There are around 1,300 known species of insects in Iceland, which is a rather low number compared with other countries, when over one million species have been described worldwide.

Master’s Thesis

Source: Iceland Forest Service, Icelandic Institut e of Natural History Fig. 26



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The seven municipalities

Fig. 27

The study area is the Greater Reykjavík Area, which consists of seven municipalities that all function as one, but at a higher level of planning they are not developed as one, and up to a point have been compeeting against each other, rather then working together11. Reykjavík as a town was founded in 1786 and started growning next to the harbour, so did Hafnarfjörður as well, which was founded in 1908. Both of these towns grew from fishing. Other municipalities have then simply grown because


Sigurborg Ósk Haraldsdóttir

Reykjavík’s genius loci or spirit of place

Fig. 28

of the proximity to these two. When arriving in the city the first thing to notice is the view, with endless, bare roadside landscapes. Due to all the roads and the traffic they carry it may appear that one million people live in the city but the truth is that there are only 210,000 inhabitants to be found in the Greater Reykjavík Area. Almost everything is there to accomodate the car, in one way or another. Big scale flyovers and small parking spaces, are all designed for people to travel, in their car, the fastest way possible, from one place to another. Reykjavík is a city designed for cars.

Master’s Thesis


HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT How the city came to be

The city’s footprint at the year 2012


Fig. 29

When the city was found in 1786 the population consisted of 176 persons and since then it has grown exponentially, especially after the Second World War. In 1927 a masterplan was made12, supposidly for the next 50 years but it vastly underestimated the growth of the city and therefore, Reykjavik was not able to plan fast enough to accommodate the large numbers of people migrating to Reykjavik from the country. In that time the development changed from a dense city form to a scattered development. It was the result from day-to-day ad hoc planning solutions12. As the Mayor, Geir Hallgrímson, puts it in the Master Plan for Reykjavík 1962 -83, : “Nowadays decisions on planning proposals such as laying out new streets and siting new buildings happen every other week.”13 Today, each of the 204,000 inhabitants, takes up 10 times more space then in the year 1941.14 Sigurborg Ósk Haraldsdóttir

1876 7,000 inhabitants

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MAIN ROAD NETWORK From planning to reality

The main road system in Greater Reykjavik according to the seven municipal plans.

The main roads at 1900


Fig. 43v

Main roads in 1962

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Proposed Main road Network 1962

Sigurborg ร sk Haraldsdรณttir

Fig. 46

“The high class road system leads the rapid through traffic away from the residential areas....”

The main road system in the city has mostly developed from the 1962 Master Plan. In that Master Plan all focus was put on the car as first mode of transport and little attention was paid to public transportation. “Ever-growing automobile traffic has created new problems. It needs wider streets, more complicated junctions and increased parking.”13 And so it was done. But with these main roads also came negative factors like speed, noise- and air pollution. Therefore it was not allowed to build close to the “high class road system” and still isn’t. Today 17.3% of land in Reykjavík is occupied by land dedicated to possible future expansion of the road2.

Fig. 47

(a) High class protection of primary roads within the road plan. (b) Where existing buildings are closer to the road, protection can best be provided through local access roads behind the buildings. (c)... Master’s Thesis


FLYOVERS IN THE CITY Beautiful monsters For a city of 200,000, 18 flyovers is a relatively high number. In the city they can be found in various sizes and shapes, with no two looking the same. Their function is monotonus, as they only serve the car. In all of these flyovers, except for two, pedestrians are excluded. They are barriers in the landscape of enormous size and take up huge amount of land in the city. All of them have man made high maintenance vegetation on, in and around them. One exception is the newest one in Hafnarfjörður where the existing lava and it’s natural biotope was kept. As the driver goes under or over he sees it through his windshield for few seconds and then he is again on his merry way. When looked at from above, these monsters tend to fascinate with their forms and shapes, but don’t get seduced. If one would try to get pass them on foot, all fascination would quickly disappear.


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TRAFFIC VOLUME Counting cars

Average traffic volume per day on the main road system

Fig. 66

Numbers for traffic volume on the main road system shows how many cars move every day from the outer suburbs, to the inner city. It is like the city is breathing in and out every day. These numbers are then used determine where the system has reached maximum capacity and action is needed15. But in these cars are people, and a way to consider, is to count how many people the system moves. One would definitely get different numbers and hopefully different approaches for people can move by other means then car.


Sigurborg Ă“sk HaraldsdĂłttir

Maximum Traffic per hour on Main Routes, 1960

Winter Traffic in Ártúnsbrekka, 2012

Fig. 67

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Revolution in Vehicle Use

Master’s Thesis


SPEED LIMITS ON MAIN ROADS Maximum speed that a vehicle is allowed to travel on

Speed limits on the main road system varies from 50 to 80

Fig. 70

On the main road system you can find the highest speed limit allowed in the city, 80 km/h, as well as 50 km/h. The speed limit is used as a tool to maximise transport capacity.15 It is not necessarily linked to the physical structure of the road, but rather to traffic volumes and function of the road. High speed, along with road infrastructure, can work as a physical and mental barrier between areas and neighborhoods in a city.


Sigurborg ร sk Haraldsdรณttir

Safe distance required for cars travelling at different speed

Main road with 60 km/h speed limit

Main road with 60 km/h speed limit

Master’s Thesis

Fig. 71

Fig. 72


ACTUAL SPEED IN THE CITY Faster then the speed limit

Percentage of vehicles travelling above the speed limit on selected streets


Fig. 74

Sigurborg ร sk Haraldsdรณttir

Effects of Speed on Pedestrian Fatality Rates

Data: U.K. Department of Transportation, Killing Speed and Saving Lives, London 1987

The actual driving speed on the main road system is much higher then the speed limit. On SĂŚbraut for example, where the limit is 60 km p/hour, 66% of the vehicles are travelling above the speed limit. On residential streets where the speed limit is 30 km, up to 50% of the vehicles are travelling faster.

The actual driving speed on the main road system is much higher then the speed limit. On SÌbraut for example, where the limit is 60 km p/hour, 66% of the vehicles are travelling above the speed limit. On residential streets where the speed limit is 30 km, up to 50% of the vehicles are travelling faster than the limit. To deal with this matter, sometimes the speed limit has simply been raised, particularly on the main roads, and in residential streets the most common solution would be to place a speed bump on the street. Master’s Thesis


CURRENT PLANNIG DIRECTION More of the same or what?

Plans for the main road system in Greater Reykjavik according to the seven municipal plans.

Fig. 78

This map shows what is the current planning direction for the main network system. The aim is to release alot of the pressure on the two busiest roads, one with tunnel underneath Kรณpavogur and the other one with a bridge, right past Grafavogur. That would increase options and connections to the city, especially the peninsula, which is vulnerable to hazards and natural disasters, for there are only three roads that connect the peninsula to the country.


Sigurborg ร sk Haraldsdรณttir

One of the many flyovers in the city that take up enormous amount of land

Signing the contract

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Fig. 80

Fig. 79

On the 7th of May 2012, an agreement was signed between the Icelandic Government and municipalities in the Greater ReykjavĂ­k Area to dramatically increase the budget for public transportation over the next ten years, and to postpone all big road infrastructure projects in the city, both new flyovers and new main roads.17



“The natural features around Reykjavík make the details of the town look small.”

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The existing road hierarchy in Reykjavík exhibits classical signs of speed and exclusion, where the only connecting roads are the main roads. The 1962 Town Plan proposed a vast network of culs de sac, with the intention that these would form part of the city’s playground network. These streets were called quiet green roads but were neither quiet nor green.

“...and the residential roads are reserved for traffic with destinations here....”

The roads were also classified by speed and amounts of traffic volume. Those two factors have become great barriers in the city.

Fig. 83

“...and if they are turned into dead end streets they can used as playing areas.” 35

Sigurborg Ósk Haraldsdóttir

“ The “quiet” (green) roads”

Fig. 84

(a) the primary roads form a continous network, connected to the individual districts of the town; (b) the secondary roads provide access to the quarters within the districts, and (c) the tertiary roads serve the induvidual blocks.

“The tertiary roads”

“ The secondary roads”

“ The primary roads” Master’s Thesis

Fig. 85

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Main road, Sæbraut

Fig. 89

The physical outcome of the 1962 townplan is of another nature than described in the planning documents. Wide roads and vast open spaces around them make every street, main or residential, unpersonal and overscaled. This results in a big and flexible space for cars and small, unsafe spaces for children where they have to cross these wide, fast-paced roads.


Sigurborg Ósk Haraldsdóttir

Residential Street

Master’s Thesis

Fig. 90

Residential Street

Fig. 91

Residential Street

Fig. 92


LANDUSE A comparison of old and new neighbouhoods in the city.

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Newly planned neighbourhoods in the Greater Reykjavík area have all been located in the outer suburbes with vast amount of road infrastructure and green spaces. These neighbourhoods are almost purely residential and all of their inhabitands need to travel into the city every day. Litte life is to be found in these neighbourhoods other than schools or kindergardens. In the last couple of years big boxes have been appearing at the edges of these neighbourhoods containing monotonus comercial activity. All distances in these neighbourhoods are long and social urban life is not to be found. These new neighbourhoods have 10 times the amount of infrastructure compared to their older counterparts.2


Sigurborg Ósk Haraldsdóttir

Fig. 95

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42% BUILT AREAS Fig. 98

Mjódd, bus interchange and shopping centre Master’s Thesis

Fig. 99



157 shops 60 parking spaces

11 shops 1800 parking spaces


Sigurborg ร sk Haraldsdรณttir

Fig. 100

Fig. 101

Master’s Thesis


STREET FUNCTION How speed effects perception, connection and respect

30 km speed limit

Fig. 106

30 km speed limit

Fig. 107

These two streets both have the same speed limit, yet is the width of the residential street, three times more then on the main shopping street, Laugavegur.


Sigurborg ร sk Haraldsdรณttir

Fig. 102

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This is what Hverfisgata used to look at 1910 before the time of asphalt and cars. Movement and street life happend at a human pace. The street was a calm and social space. Today the speed has taken over, more space is given to the car and less space for socialising.

Fig. 104

Master’s Thesis

Fig. 105

Those who travel on this street today do not connect to those that are staying on it. We have lost a lot of connection to our surroundings due to how fast and isolated cars are. When you get into a car time and space become distorted. Connection, respect and care for your environment vanishes. How can you care for and respect something you do not know?



Fig. 110

A survey done in 2011 about which mode of transport people use in their daily life18 reveils interesting facts. One is that 15 % walk where they are going, this can largely be explained by young children that are walking to school. For the elementary schools in the city are always located in the centres of the neighbourhoods with very good path system connecting to them. Only 4 % use the public transportation system, which consists of buses and is not considered very good nor is it considered a “hip” to use, it is quite frowned upon. But, recent news of refunding the public tranport system must be taken into account, as previously mentioned.

Bicycling has increased from 0,3% in 2002 to 4 % in 2012 which is very positive and this mode is growing fastest of all. Right now Reykjavík city has put an ambitous bicycle plan in action.

Hringbraut 1960

Fig. 111

76 % of participants use the car to get to their daily business in the city which is a direct result from the last years of planning. In 1962 they had already planned for each household to own a car. Today 643 of approximatly 1000 persons own a car.

Fig. 112


The 1960 Town Plan assumed one car per household.

Sigurborg Ósk Haraldsdóttir

Household in Reykjavík 2012

Fig. 114

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Fig. 113

76% 15% 4% 4% 46


Sigurborg ร sk Haraldsdรณttir


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CITY PATTERNS Function and design

Ten Ladder Points

Fig. 118

Ten Grid Points

Fig. 119

An interesting way to study mobility in citys is to draw up the morphology, because these patterns tell alot about the flow. They tell you about how connected the city is and how neighbourhoods in the city are connected. The width of the road has nothing to do with quality of that road because a wide street wide pavements and bicycle paths so how the different modes of transport are organized in the street has more effect on the quality. A connected grid allowes for more flexibility, security and social interactions. City patterns with culs de sac and one way streets make the cities excluded, vulnerable and lonely. This kind of pattern does not offer people multiple options to travel from a to b and forces everybody down the same road. The city of Bologne has a connected organic grid in human scale and is full of city life and social interactions. Ahmedabad was originally built for walking traffic and later on accomodated for the car by superimposing wide streets onto the smaller fine network. Today it has huge problems of congestion. Portland on the other hand is a typical North American grid city with ultimate connective pattern allowing for great street life along with alot of vegetation, wide sidewalks, bicycle


paths and good public transportation. This city is a model for the U.S; for how to make a pedestrian friendly city. When Reykjavík is compared next to these cities it becomes obvious that the culs de sac are dominating and neighbourhoods are disconnected.

Sigurborg Ósk Haraldsdóttir

Street patterns

Bologna Italy

Ahmedabad India

Portland U.S.

Reykjavík Iceland Master’s Thesis

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Sigurborg ร sk Haraldsdรณttir

THREE SITES City Centre/Miðbær Street: Sæbraut Centre District/Kringlan Street: Miklabraut Outer Suburbs/Grafarvogur Street: Vættaborgir

Master’s Thesis

Fig. 128






Fig. 129

The streets patterns in the old city center are grid based. The streets are narrow, connected and with limited hierarchy. Arterial roads are only connected to the grid in few places and therefore work as superimposed roads that enclose the inhabitants. The street, Sæbraut, is Reykjavík’s lost waterfront. and it is facing harsh weather conditions and large amount of car traffic.


Sigurborg Ósk Haraldsdóttir

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Fig. 133

The streets patterns in the inner suburbs are of a completely different nature than in the city centre. The traditional road hierarchy is dominant and culs de sac are common. People from different sides of the arterial roads do not socialise with each other and there is very little movement inside the neighbourhoods. The only movement in them is in or out, there is no through traffic and therefor often have to travel a very long way to get to something that is in short distance.


Sigurborg Ă“sk HaraldsdĂłttir

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Fig. 137

The streets patterns in the outer suburbs are a suburban implementation of the hierarchy system. There, the travel distance for short distance is even greater, in one example the travel distance between houses is 1,700 meters but the actual distance is 25 meters. The suburbs are defined by culs de sac which then controls movements, distances and connections in the area.


Sigurborg Ósk Haraldsdóttir

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Fig. 140



Sigurborg ร sk Haraldsdรณttir


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SLOWING DOWN THE CITY Streets become social carriageways

Proposed speed on the main roads.


Fig. 141

Speed can be both a physical and mental barrier. A slow city will connect people to their city, people to people, and people to their neighbourhoods. This proposal aims to drasticly lower the average speed limits within Reykjavík’s roads. The Slow City proposal will remove the existing speed barrier from Reykjavík’s streets by creating a narrower, transfomed network of social carriageways, where many modes of transport are welcome.

Sigurborg Ósk Haraldsdóttir

Existing speed on the main roads.

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FAST CITY Existing




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Sigurborg Ósk Haraldsdóttir

In order to prepare the city for the future, problems like greenhouse gas emissions, air pollution and sound pollution need to be addressed. Changing the existing modes of transport is critical, and will involve addressing other issues like required space and ownership of vehicles. With population growing it is crucial to think how we can accomodate for more people, in the same space, that all need to travel from a to b.

When looking at options for the Greater Reykjavík three different factors are important to consider. The first one being existing infrastructure. There are currently over 2000 km of roads in the city and over 48% of the land is used for transportation infrastructure. Developing ways to better use existing infrastructure is a feasible way to release some of this land for development. A second element to consider is climate. Winters are mild, and temperatures in summer vary between +10°C to +15°C. Wind and percipitation play the most vital role in the climate, all year long. In winters streets are sometimes simply impassable for vehicles due to snow and wind. Exposure to forces of nature is therefore important to consider when deciding future modes of transport. The third factor is the existing electrical grid. In Greater Reykjavík it is big and highly advanced, designed to move extrodinary amounts of electricity. Introducing electric cars to that system would improve the use and effeciency of that system (Steingrímur Ólafsson, 2008).

Master’s Thesis


Powered by ELECTRICITY Electric car City Car Fig. 155

- access to clean renewable energy - better use of existing electric distribution system - after 2008 there has been little renewal in the car fleet - uses existing transportation infrastructure

Shared electric car

- 1 shared car can replace 7 normal cars

Car2go Fig. 156

- fewer parking places - allows the individual more personal and economical freedom - people becoma more aware of the usage

Electric scooter

Fig. 157

- access to clean renewable energy - better use of existing electric distribution system - light and takes up small space - uses existing transportation infrastructure

Shared electric scooter

Fig. 158

- quick and easy - fewer parking places - allows the individual more personal and economical freedom - people becoma more aware of the usage

Electric bus

Fig. 159

- can provide for all public transportation - vital for those who are not able to travel by other means - allows the individual more personal and economical freedom

Electric train


Fig. 160

- reduces the travel to the airport by 20 minutes - reduces car traffic to the airport - accomodates for growing number of tourists - tremendously reduces the risk of accidents

Sigurborg Ă“sk HaraldsdĂłttir

Powered by HUMAN



Walk Fig. 161

- healthy for body and soul - change to experience and connect to the environment - fun and social - does not cost a thing


Fig. 162

- healthy for body and soul - change to experience and connect to the environment - fun and social - does not cost a thing


Fig. 163

- healthy for body and soul - change to experience and connect to the environment - fun and social - does not cost much

Shared bicycle

Fig. 164

- quick and easy - Reduces ownership - allows the individual more personal and economical freedom


Fig. 165

- 100 % sustainable - non seasonal - fun and social - change to experience and connect to the environment

Shared horse

Fig. 166

Master’s Thesis

-allows more people to enjoy horseback riding - big tourist attraction in the city


NEW TRANSPORT NETWORK Inidvidual, shared and collective



Energy input

Dependant on seasons


Speed km/h


car electricity 5-70







5 5-50






car share


electricity scooter share

Modes of transport



commercial/ public


bicycle share


horse share

bus public collective


5-70 5-50



electricity airport train


Sigurborg Ă“sk HaraldsdĂłttir

Transport networks

Merging of networks

Existing Recreation Pleasure

Blue structure Green structure Footpaths Equestrian centers Ruins of old farms Health Care facilities Green and transit ways are merged together

New Equestrian centers System of shared horses Bridle paths

Existing Transport City life

Road infrastructure Network of sidewalks Dedicated bus lanes



Road infrastructure


Transformed and downgraded network of existing roads Reduced speed Connected streets Dedicated bicycle lanes combined and merged safely into the road infrastructure More dedicated bus lanes System of shared cars System of shared bicycles System of shared scooters

Downsized roads Removed sidewalks Slower speed

New transport infrastructure

city centre KEF international airport

Fig. 167

Master’s Thesis


GreenWAYS Function and structure

Fig. 168

GreenWAYS will be a new network of slow, recreational movement, based on the existing blue and green infrastructure in the city, including an extensive network of footpaths. Changes proposed to this network is the removing of bicycle traffic, and introducing horses into the city. These GreenWAYS will form corridors in and through the city that connect to old farms and health facilities in the city.


Sigurborg Ă“sk HaraldsdĂłttir


Fig. 169

Fig. 170


Fig. 171

Fig. 172

Speed km/h

Transport networks Existing


Recreation Pleasure


Blue structure Green structure Footpaths Equestrian centers Ruins of old farms Health Care facilities




Equestrian centers System of shared horses Bridle paths

Green and transit ways are merged together



Master’s 5-20Thesis

Transport City life

Road infrastructure Network of sidewalks Dedicated bus lanes


HORSES AT THE EDGE Pushing horses out of the city and out of reach

Existing equestrean centers and bridle paths at the edge of the city



Fig. 174

Fig. 173

Horses used to play a significant role in Reykjavík. However, in the last decades they have been pushed out of the city centre and, therefore, out of the reach of the majority of the population. All, with the exception of one, of the city’s equestrian facilities are located at the edge of the urban footprint.

Sigurborg Ósk Haraldsdóttir

HORSES IN THE CITY Reuniting the city with the horse

Proposed new equestrean centers and bridle paths in the city

Fig. 175

A new network of bridle ways will form a significant part of the GreenWAYS system of transport infrastructure. This will connect a series of new equestrian facilities to the existing facilities on the city’s edge. Fig. 176


Master’s Thesis

Horses will once again play a part in the daily life of Reykjavík’s citizens.



Bringing life to old farms and Health care facilities

Important social nodes in the GreenWAYS



Fig. 178

Fig. 177

A network of bridle ways and equestrian facilities will be connected to existing healthcare facilities, helping to deinstutionalise these facilities by connecting patients to horses and people. This will have a positive impact on patient recovery times and contribute to creating a new atmosphere of social interaction and openess, thereby converting existing ‘institutions into social nodes’.

Sigurborg Ósk Haraldsdóttir


Fig. 179


Fig. 180


Fig. 181


Fig. 182


VÍFILSSTAÐIR Master’s Thesis

A programme of farmstead renovation will bring agricultural activity back into the city and making these farms as urban agricultural nodes, for markets and othere related happenings.

Fig. 183

Fig. 184


COMPLETE NETWORK Bringing life to old farms and Health care facilities

Fig. 185


Sigurborg ร sk Haraldsdรณttir

GreenWAYS IN THE CITY CENTRE Bringing life to old farms and Health care facilities

Fig. 186

If Reykjavík has a heart, it’s in the old city centre. A new GreenWAY network will connect horses and slow recreational movement into to city centre along with green corridors rich of biodiversity as well as divirse city life.

Fig. 187

Master’s Thesis

Fig. 188





Sigurborg Ósk Haraldsdóttir

Fig. 189

Master’s Thesis

Fig. 190



Fig. 191

Old Sæbraut is Reykjavík’s forgotten waterfront. The city is currently disconnected from the sea by a 97m wide road reserve strewn with 4 lanes of thoroughfare traffic and local roads, in addition to various parking facilities. The pedestrian network is narrow and is confined to the immediate edge of buildings. A shared pedestrian and cycleway runs along the seawall, completely exposed and isolated from the city fabric. The landscape character is desolate. People are confined to a narrow strip of land, flanked by arterial traffic travelling at 60km/h on one side and the seawall on the other. There is great potential in this landscape typology, and in the space it occupies. Old Sæbraut is not the waterfront that Reykjavík deserves.


Sigurborg Ósk Haraldsdóttir


Fig. 192

New Sæbraut will form part of a greater network of shared transport space within Reykjavík. It will include a series of share ways for pedestrians, electric vehicles, scooters, cyclists, and horses within a 15km/h speed limit zone. A new network of bridle ways and equestrian facilities will add life and character to the local area. The bridal ways will take full advantage of the seaside landscape, providing an attractive area for horses riding. Thoroughfare traffic will be slowed to 40km/h, contributing to general pedestrian safety in the area. There will also be a dedicated system of cycle ways located adjacent to the

thoroughfare vehicular traffic. This will help create a gentile speed gradient within a clear hierarchy that places equestrian and pedestrian traffic within a green transport network at the water’s edge. Low, dense landscaping within this new green network will shelter the waterfront from vehicular traffic while preserving waterfront views from the adjacent residential areas. New Sæbraut will form part of an exciting new green transport network within Reykjavík. Master’s Thesis


TransitWAYS Function and structure

Existing road network in the city

Fig. 193

The city has big opportunities in all the road infrastructe that exists in the city. The system is vast, covers great distances and has generously wide streets of asphalt. This aphalt, system is the identity of the city.


Sigurborg Ă“sk HaraldsdĂłttir

Bridle paths 5-50


Existing horse

Transport City life


Road infrastructure Network of sidewalks Dedicated bus lanes

New car share

Transformed and downgraded network of existing roads


scooter share

Reduced speed Connected streets Dedicated bicycle lanes combined and merged safely into the road infrastructure

5-70 5-50

bicycle share

More dedicated bus lanes horse share


System of shared cars System of shared bicycles System of shared scooters


5-90 New transport infrastructure

airport train


Fig. 194

The TransitWays is base on the enormous amound of road city centre KEF international infrastucture in the city, which is transforms and downgraded. airport Speed is reduced and streets are connected. Dedicating bus lanes on the main roads and placing all bicycle movent on the the streets where they move in harmony and at similar speed as cars. TransitWAYS will also include a car, bicycle and scooter share systems. This system accomodates for transporting people and goods. All bicycles will be in this system, for their speed 5 - 40 km per hour is much more compatable with the speed of the bus and the car. Normally the roads are very wide and luxuries for the car so there actually is space for the bicycles on the existing infrastructure, and in a fast and econicly feasable way the bicycle paths can be created. This helps to control the speed of the car and changes the hierarchy for the car is not on the top any longer, this also alows people to use the same farmiliar infrasturcte whether riding a bicycle, car or a scooter. The enourmous amount of apshalt in the city is put into better and more efficient use.

Master’s Thesis


TransitWAYS in the Centre District Creating flexible infrastucture and freedom from ownership

Fig. 195

TransitWAYS will provide a network of dedicated busways in the city centre. Bicycle paths will be located on all roads except for SharedWAYS. This will be done in combination with a programme of urban densification along arterial roads, transforming an infrastructural void into a vibrant part of the city.


The public transport system (buses) will be integrated with an extensive collective transport system, ie: bikeshare and carshare.

Sigurborg Ă“sk HaraldsdĂłttir

Existing structure


Fig. 196

Fig. 198

Fig. 200

Master’s Thesis

Dedicated bus and bicycle paths

Intergrated sytem of bus and shared modes

Fig. 197

Fig. 199

Fig. 201





Sigurborg ร sk Haraldsdรณttir

Fig. 202

Fig. 203

Master’s Thesis



Fig. 204

Old Miklabraut is an 8 lane arterial road, within a total road reserve 114m wide. It consists of 3 lanes in each direction, plus a dedicated bus lane. The carriageways are currently separated by a 7.5m wide central median strip, which is flanked on either side by a series of landscaped mounds, separating pedestrians and cyclists from vehicular traffic.

The existing landscape character here is desolate. The bitumen is vast, and the speed is high. All ‘human movement’ is constrained to a narrow strip of isolated pedestrian and cycle ways hidden behind grass mounds at the backs of residential buildings. This is infrastructure geared for movement; it moves vehicles in an orderly and effective fashion, while successfully separating pedestrian and cyclists from main traffic flows. However, it is inflexible. It is inhumane.


Sigurborg Ósk Haraldsdóttir



Fig. 205

New Miklabraut will occupy almost half the total road reserve of the old, releasing previously wasted space for new residential and commercial development within the existing city limits. Speed will be reduced from 60km/h to 40km/h, allowing for narrower carriageways, while also increasing safety and contributing to local amenity. Thoroughfare traffic is separated from local traffic by a system of landscaped verges that also make a significant contribution to the local landscape amenity. Vehicular traffic will move slowly, at 15km/h, along a new street directly adjacent to new residential and commercial developments. Miklabraut’s new local streets will function as shared car and cycle ways and will also include parking for electric vehicles. A narrower, slower, and safer network of streetscapes will help make Miklabraut a more attractive and healthier place for people, in all seasons.

Master’s Thesis


SharedWAYS Function and structure

Fig. 206

GreenWAYS and TransitWAYS merge together in residential streets, creating a system of SharedWAYS where pedestrians, scooters, cars, horses and cyclists share the same surface.


Fig. 209

Fig. 208

Sigurborg ร sk Haraldsdรณttir



Existing Blue structure Green structure Footpaths Equestrian centers Ruins of old farms Health Care facilities Green and transit ways are merged together

New Equestrian centers System of shared horses Bridle paths

Existing Road infrastructure Network of sidewalks Dedicated bus lanes



Road infrastructure

Transformed and downgraded network of existing roads Reduced speed Connected streets Dedicated bicycle lanes combined and merged safely into the road infrastructure More dedicated bus lanes System of shared cars System of shared bicycles System of shared scooters

New Downsized roads Removed sidewalks Slower speed

New transport infrastructure

KEF international airport

Fig. 207


Fig. 210

Master’s Thesis

Fig. 211

Fig. 212


DENSIFICATION Bringing life into the outer suburbs

Fig. 213

SharedWAYS will play host to new residential and commercial development within the city’s existing urban footprint. Density will occur within a 500m radius of retail and commercial centres, and will be located directly adjacent to existing collector roads.


Sigurborg Ósk Haraldsdóttir


Shared streets Master’s Thesis

Fig. 214

Fig. 215





Fig. 216

Sigurborg Ósk Haraldsdóttir

Fig. 217

Master’s Thesis



Fig. 218

Vættaborgir is located on Reykjavík’s urban fringe. It is characterised by low-rise, low-density residential dwellings and open view to the mountains beyond. However, the streets are over-dimensioned and baron. The streetscape here is completely dominated by infrastructure for cars. This creates an environment in which people are rarely seen, and almost never meet. The road reserve at Old Vættaborgir is 45m wide. 24m of this is occupied by bitumen for parking space. The parking, footpaths and carriageways are configured within a contiguous area, creating a 22m wide impermeable surface from door to gutter. This is unacceptable for a residential neighbourhood. It creates an institutional feeling totally out of keeping with the pleasures of home life. Old Vættaborgir illustrates the outcome of car domination in Reykjavík, in the most brutal way. Old Vættaborgir is numb. A vast, meandering network of bitumen snakes its way through Vættaborgir’s residential neighbourhoods, occupying potentially productive land.


Sigurborg Ósk Haraldsdóttir


Fig. 219

New Vættaborgir will be a productive neighbourhood. It will form part of the SharedWAY system of streets where electric cars, scooters, pedestrians, horses, and cyclists all occupy space in a common carriageway. This mix of transport modes will occupy a 4m wide carriageway, flanked on either side by a flexible 1m wide mountable kerb. A carpet of plots for agriculture will fill the space previously dominated by car parking. This will create a new, productive, and social landscape in which residents can meet, be seen, cultivate food and move about freely.

Vehicular traffic will move though Vættaborgir’s new streetscapes at 15km/h, in harmony with other transport modes. A programme of new street tree planting will create a sense of human scale, helping to soften the areas roofscape while providing habitat for local birdlife and creating privacy for residents.

Master’s Thesis


RailWAYS Function and structure

New development for the main transport system in the city Fig. 220

RailWAYS will connect Reykjavík to its international airport via a high-speed train. The rail infrastructure will be situated within existing unoccupied road corridors. Two new train stations, Mjódd and Lækjartorg, will become new transport nodes, connecting shared and public modes of transport.


Sigurborg Ósk Haraldsdóttir

Existing centre

Proposed centres

40 km

Master’s Thesis

Fig. 221


ACTIVATING THE CITY CONTEMPORARY PROJECTS AND EVENTS MAKING BICYCLE PATHS OVER NIGHT This project will activate the citizen over a night to make a bicycle path in their neighbourhood, in the streets they want them to be. The paths can be made out of any material marking it, tin cans for example.

RECONFIGURING FLYOVERS IN THE CITY WITH ART This idea is about re-using the gigantic flyovers in the city, and trying to figure out what else can they be used for. It involves artists and citisens to participate in re-making of the structures.

CONCERT AT THE BIGGEST INTERSECTION This projest is of large scale and international attention where big bands join and hold a concert at one of the biggest intersection to claim attention to the car oriented problem, to raise awareness and to introduce people into a space they have never dwelled in before.


Sigurborg ร sk Haraldsdรณttir

PLANNING ONE STREET HAPPENINGS That is when the inhabitants of the street come together in an event, such as barbeque and the streets is closed of from traffic. Then the street can actually be transformed temporary as a playing field for children.

RESEARCH WORK SCHOOLS LANDUSE AND TRANSPORT This is an idea for a reaseach proposal to see the connection between landuse and selected mode of transport in colleges, Also to look at how the landuse changes from kindergarten to university. The results could then be compaired with other countries.

CHANGING THE SPACE IN RESIDENTIAL STREETS This is an idea where the thesis could be tested and for a week or a month a street could be transformed, narrowed , sidewalks removed and made greener to change the speed of the car and make all modes of transport travel on the same path/street.

Master’s Thesis


BIBLIOGRAPHY 1. Gilding, Paul (2011) The Great Disruption, United Kingdom.

2. Skipulags- og byggingarsvið Reykjavíkurborgar (2010), Landþörf samgangna, Reykjavík. offita

4. Verkfræðistofa Sigurðar Thoroddsen hf. (2001) Vistvegir, Reykjavík

5. Rannsóknarnefnd Umferðarslysa (2009) Alvarleg slys á höfuðborgarsvæðinu, Reykjavík 6. Vegagerðin (2005) Nýtt umferðarlíkan höfuðborgarsvæðisins, Reykjavík.

7. Þröstur Þorsteinsson (2008) Svifryksmengun vegna umferðar, Reykjavík.

8. Hreinn Haraldsson (2001) Losun gróðurhúsalofttegunda frá samgöngum, Reykjavík. 9. Landsvirkjun (2010) Landsvirkjun fact sheet, Reykjavík. 10. Official Tourism information site (2012)

11. Harpa Stefánssdóttir (2010) Skipulag á höfuðborgarsvæðinu, sjálfbær þróun í samgöngum, Reykjavík.

12. Urban Planning, html, 14. April 2012.

13. Reykjarvíkurborg (1966) Aðalskipulag Reykjarvíkur 1962-83, Copenhagen 14. Hagstofa Íslands, (2012), Reykjavík.

15. Almenna Verkfræðistofan, (2007) Stofnvegakerfi höfuðborgarsvæðisins, Reykjavík. 16. Línuhönnun Verkfræðistofa, (2008) Vulnerability and risk analysis of the road infrastructure in Reykjavík, Reykjavík.

17. Ætla að stórefla almenningssamgöngur, (07 May 2012), Reykjavík. 18. Capacent (2011), Ferðir íbúa höfuðborgar svæðisns, Reykjavík 19. Reykjavíkurborg (2010) Hjólaborgin Reykjavík, Reykjavík.


Sigurborg Ósk Haraldsdóttir

LIST OF FIGURES 1-4, 7-22, 27, 29, 36-42, 66, 68-74, 78, 89-92, 106, 114-117, 126, 128, 129, 131, 133, 137, 140-154, 167, 168, 173, 175, 177, 185, 186, 189-199, 202, 203, 205, 213-217, 219-221 – By Author 6,23 – Snædìs Laufey Bjarnadòttir 24, 96, 97, 107, 132, 157-164, 170-172, - Unknown 25 – Sverrir Thòròlfsson 26 – Doug Gorton 28 – Brian Soda, 2008 30-34 – Rukberg 35, 55, 57, 59-61, 63, 65, 93-94, 99, - 43-47, 67, 81-88, 111 – Adalskodun ´62 48-54, 56, 58, 62, 64, 130, 134, 138, 174, 178, 206, 209 – Borgarvefsjà 75-76 – Morgunbladid 77 – 79, 200, 201, 204 – Sveinbjörn Kàri Haraldsson 80 – Pjetur, 95, 98 – Samgönguskyrslan Landthörf 106 – AMR 101, 109 – Jònìna Marìa Sveinbjarnardòttir 102-105 – Ljòsmyndasafn Ìslands 110 – Gallup könnun? 113, 207-208, 210-212 – Kolbrùn Gudrìdur Haraldsdòttir 118-119, 135, 139 – Albert Pope, Ladders 120, 122,124 – Great Streets, Allan B. Jacobs 121 – Meandaino 123 – TrekEarth 125 – Boltcity 127, 136 – Marìa Theodòrsdòttir 155 – CityCar 156 – Car2go 165, 167 – B&B Kristinsson 169, 187,188 – Àrni Geirsson 179 – Anna Berglind 180 – Àlfheidur Magnùsdòttir 181 – Thorkell Thorkelsson 182 – Kjartan P. Sigurdsson 183 – Thorvaldur Örn Kristinsson 184 – Pètur Magnùsson Master’s Thesis


Sigurborg Ósk Haraldsdóttir Master’s Thesis


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