Unique Home Designs in Iceland


Iceland is famed for its out of the norm designs, from longhouses to turf houses, timber houses, use of brick, corrugated irons, etc. Home designs have seen a lot of development in Iceland, but each still remains unique to the location. Let’s take a look at some home designs unique to Iceland.

Turf houses

This is one of the oldest forms of home designs known in Iceland. Turf houses are abodes made of timber, they are believed to be an upgrade of the usual longhouses used by the migrating Vikings from Norway who settled and lived in Iceland. The foundation of the house is made of wood and stacks of rocks, walls of soil that aids insulation in the icy nation. The wall of soil is thereafter covered by a layer of turf giving the house the iconic grassy appearance.

In turf houses, ice landers house their animals on the down floor of the building, while they reside on the top floor. This is done to ensure that the animals are kept warm from the heat emanating from the soil.

Stone buildings

In the 18th century, a rise in stone buildings was seen in Iceland. This change in design was influenced by Danish builders and architects who came into the country. the trend started as government official buildings to residential houses as most Icelanders were able to learn the craft of masonry from the Danish. The stone houses in Iceland still took resemblance to their iconic turf houses, as the roof of the stone houses were made of wood against the slate used in Denmark.

Timber houses

In the history of Iceland, Denmark who is their colonial master is noted as an important source of its urbanization. Part of these can be attributed to Denmark’s effect on the housing systems of Iceland.

As the influx of Denmark nationals increased in the country, they were able to set up a trading post in Iceland and the influx of timber in Iceland began. Various timber houses sprang up in different areas of the country. Timber houses were thereafter banned following the great fires of Reykjavík.

Use of corrugated irons

In the 1930s, there was the introduction of corrugated iron. This was carried out by British merchants who were willing to trade the corrugated iron for wool. Corrugated irons were well embraced by Icelanders, this can be due to the weather in Iceland and the ability of the corrugated sheets to provide dome sort of insulation. It was quickly adopted by many buildings ranging from farm sheds to residential buildings government offices and even churches, with some tweaking theirs by painting them.

Concrete Buildings

After the ban of timber in Iceland, the use of concrete in building houses Iceland began and became very popular in the long run. Also, the presence of Iceland’s own architect Guðjón Samúelsson as the Iceland leading architect in charge of building constructed by the government aided the introduction of a high level of modernization in Icelandic architecture mixed with the ancient gable-fronted house design. Since then the architectural designs of Iceland have been hit with a lot of modernism, even though they still try to maintain a bit of their ancient architectural designs like low windows, gable-fronted house design, etc.