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Iceland 2009

  • Spring 2009
  • Instructor: Orri Gunnarsson

This project will bring about eight UM undergraduates and graduates in architecture and urban and regional planning into intimate contact with the design and planning issues of the country.

Students will be introduced to Icelandic planning, architecture, culture, literature, language, and geography during the first two weeks of the semester (to be held in Ann Arbor). Upon arrival in Reykjavik, they will visit possible sites for their applied planning and architecture projects and will select a site. Projects may be handled individually or in teams. Groups will devise policies, plans, and designs relevant to the project of their choice. Throughout the course of the semester, these will be refined through interaction with guest critics and lecturers who will advise students on alternative approaches to the projects they are working on. There will be regular trips throughout the city and country.

One of the main goals of the course is the study of innovative and sustainable design in the northern hemisphere within a Scandinavian context. Reykjavik is a rapidly growing city and has been developing in quite a different way than the other Scandinavian capitals; surprisingly, its low- density, auto-oriented development forms have been likened to those in the United States. Even though Copenhagen, Denmark's capital, once served as the official capital of Iceland (AD 1380–1918), Copenhagen and Reykjavik have developed in completely different ways with Copenhagen serving as an international model of compact, pedestrian-friendly urban development.