The spacious entrance to Hildigunnur Haraldsdottir’s building in downtown Reykjavik is paved with marble from Prague and decorated with stained glass artwork by a famous local artist. The architect’s apartment on the 5th floor is fitted with floor heating, AEG appliances and balconies with stunning views of the city’s harbor and historic center.
The flat is one of 38 that she designed for her company, T13 ehf, with co-financing from Landsbankinn, Iceland’s largest bank. Only 23 of them have been sold since they hit the market more than a year ago.
“We have lowered our prices and can’t lower them further, since the price is now lower than the cost of building,” Haraldsdottir said in an interview in Reykjavik.
Iceland has a history of booms and busts, and the architect’s venture shows how prone to excesses the nation can be. While hundreds of new luxury apartments remain empty, a lack of affordable housing (according to a recent government report, some 8,000 homes are needed to address the shortages) continues to fuel widespread resentment, poisoning ongoing wage talks between the unions and employers. Read more