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20191203 Hlemmur images 4 december prese


Hlemmur Square, Reykjavik, Iceland




1.9 ha


Invited competition & further commission


Shared first prize


Reykjavik Municipality


Martin Arfalk, Patrick Verhoeven,

Andrei Deacu, Pia Kante, Cyril Pavlu, Katerina Vondrova, Kinga Zemla


DLD Land Design

Hlemmur Square

Reinventing the urban square


Hlemmur Square is located in the centre of Reykjavik, at the eastern end of the city’s main commercial street. While loaded with historical significance as a gateway into the city centre, the area goes now through a complete transformation with the opening of Hlemmur Mathöll, and the restructuring of the local traffic system and introduction of Borgarlína, the new rapid bus transit line on Hverfisgata street.


Since early 2018 we have been working together with Dagný Land Design and the Municipality of Reykjavik to redesign one of Reykjavik’s central urban spaces, and investigate how spatial design can maximise public life in the winter city. During this process we looked for ways in which the new square can build on and strengthen the qualities of the existing public space to support social life, build a great green/blue environment, and create a strong identity and link to history.


Taking inspiration from Mathöll, we developed a collection of adaptable open structures that can be used as sheltered, programmed rooms and open interactive spaces that form complementary indoor and outdoor public meeting points. The adaptable structures allow for a year-round use of the square and encourage a wide variety of activities to take place.


The project introduces energy, playfulness and identity to an important public space, and invites Reykjavikers to come together, enjoy each others company and maximise public life in all conditions!

The traditional square 

A traditional square is defined by its relationship to its edges and program.

Hlemmur’s condition

Today, Hlemmur square is intensely used, but has a predominant presence of cars and busses

Lively Hlemmur

New program can bring energy and life to the square, while creating new and exciting edges to activate the in between spaces.

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A space for all

The square can host a variety of functions and activities, creating an inclusive public space for all.

It all starts with Mathöll

The starting point of the intervention is Mathöll, a vibrant local and citywide landmark. 

New life expands on the square

Due to the upcoming roadway reconfiguration, Hlemmur square will soon become bigger. This allows for new new activities and program to take place.

Adapting to context

We carefully position the new program with attention to view lines, future traffic changes, and with respect for the existing edges.

The soul of Hlemmur

 The new program diversifies the experience of the square, bringing novel activities such as  a stage for events, sports, bike repair and many more.

Open frame structures

To maximise the enjoyment and usability of the space, open frame structures provide both shelter and support for public life.

Lively Hlemmur

The result is a square that strengthens the existing qualities of Hlemmur, introduces fun, shared activities and attracts people in all seasons and weather!

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Permeable yet activated public space

New program can bring energy and life into the square, while creating exciting edges and active in-between spaces.

20191203 Hlemmur images 4 december prese

Alive year-round

Hlemmur square stays active through all season along with the adaptable open frame structures that can provide both shelter and support for events and various activities to take place.

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Laugavegur active carpet

Connecting the centre of Reykjavik to Hlemmur Square, Laugavegur street becomes a green resting space that interacts with the surroundings.

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Open frame structures

The adaptable and mixed open frame structures allow for a year round use of public space, while hosting a variety of activities in all climate conditions.

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A colourful mix

Inspired by the Mathöll, the mix of existing program, new program and cultural artefacts combine into a colourful spatial cocktail.

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