Concrete’s Furthest North. Early 20th Century Heritage of Modern Civil Engineering in Iceland


  • Pétur H. Ármannsson




Modern Movement, Modern architecture, Modern housing


In 1935–36, the English writer and design critic Philip Morton Shand (1888-1960), proponent of Modernism, translator of Walter Gropius and founder of MARS group (Modern Architectural Research Group) published two articles in the magazine “The Concrete Way”. The first one was entitled “Concrete´s furthest north”, highlighting the advanced and wide–ranging use of concrete construction in Iceland. With the second article were photographs of newly built public buildings by architect Sigurdur Gudmundsson (1885-1958) as well as bridges designed in the 1920s and 1930s by the engineers of the Icelandic State Highways Department. Shand was impressed by the work of the “gifted and thoroughly modern minded architect such as any country might be proud of” as well as the work of “first rate–engineers” of this “geographically remote island which at that time had only 100,000 inhabitants and 2,000 motorcars. He also points at the photos "as evidence of the wonderful clearness of the air which is characteristic of Iceland´s brief Arctic summers."

How to Cite

Ármannsson, P. H. (2011). Concrete’s Furthest North. Early 20th Century Heritage of Modern Civil Engineering in Iceland. Docomomo Journal, (45), 86–89.




Author Biography

Pétur H. Ármannsson

Graduated in Architecture at the University of Toronto, Canada in 1986 and postgraduated at Cornell University, Ithaca, New York in 1988–1990. He worked in the studio of Dagný Helgadóttir and Guðni Pálsson in Reykjavik and between 1993 and 2005 he was the Curator of Architecture at the Reykjavik Art Museum. Since 2006 he is part of the Gláma–Kím Architects team and is the author of several publications and articles on 20th century architecture in Iceland.