The honorary award of the Icelandic Design Award 2022 goes to Reynir Vilhjálmsson, landscape architect

November 17th, 2022
Reynir Vilhjálmsson, landscape architect and Lilja D. Alfreðsdóttir, minister.

The honorary award of the Icelandic Design Awards 2022 goes to Reynir Vilhjálmsson, landscape architect. Reynir has a unique sense for the environment and its shapes, and how the built environment and natural landscape can be linked holistically. Lilja D. Alfreðsdóttir minister of culture and business affairs gave Reynir the award at a ceremony in Gróska. 

From the jury:

Reynir is a pioneer in Icelandic landscape architecture and the traces of both his design and his influence are widespread. He is among the very first educated Icelandic landscape architects and has created a legacy with a broad variety of projects. Among these are plans for residential areas including environmental design, recreational areas, playgrounds, and parks, but also other environmental projects such as avalanche barriers. Reynir has a unique sense for the environment and its shapes, and how built environment and natural landscape can be linked holistically.

Reynir was born in Reykjavík in 1934. He finished examination as a horticulturist from the State Horticultural School in Reykjar in 1953, and a postgraduate degree from Det kongelige haveselskabs anlægsgartnerskole in 1955. He then graduated as a landscape architect from Det Kongelige Kunstakademis Arkitektskole in Copenhagen in 1961. Reynir worked for a time in Denmark and with planning projects in Greenland. Soon after his return home to Iceland, he founded a private practice, Reynir Vilhjálmsson Design Studio, in 1963 and in 1989 he established the studio Landscape Architects Reynir Vilhjálmsson and Þráinn Hauksson, and finally he founded the design studio Landslag in 1999. During his years in Denmark, Reynir adopted an interdisciplinary approach to the work of architects, landscape architects, and engineers, and continuously applied this approach in his work.

Upon his return to Iceland, Reynir was one of the specialists that laid the groundwork for the general zoning plan for the city of Reykjavík, which was in the making for the first time. He also worked on zoning plans for the areas Árbær and Breiðholt. During his career of over 40 years, Reynir has laid the foundation for green spaces in Reykjavík by providing them with a more sheltered and human environment. He has shaped some the most popular recreational areas in the city: Elliðaárdalur, Laugardalur and Klambratún. 

Reynir has always been active and influential within the architectural society. In 1978, Reynir and other architects founded the Icelandic Association for Architects (Félag íslenskra landslagsarkitekta, FÍLA) and Reynir served as its director. Reynir was a mentor for many landscape architects and others that work with shaping built environment.

Reynir has always based his work on the various attributes that are associated with quality-built environment. He focused on the impact of weather and wind direction, access for children to playgrounds and recreational areas, and linking private and public spaces. In his first planning projects, Reynir laid the groundwork for the green public spaces that still today are the city's main landmarks. Reynir has cooperated with several architects on developing parks and open spaces around buildings and through that had considerate influence on the environment of the city landscape we have today. In this work, the focus has always been on a holistic approach to the building, the landscape, and the surrounding environment, in an integral interaction between the interior and the exterior. National and University Library of Iceland is a well know example of Reynir's design, his capacity to make interesting and unexpected spaces shaped by rocks, passageways, vegetation, and a great sense of landscape in the larger context. The avalanche barriers in Siglufjörður are examples of landscaping that are especially gratifying, positioned in harmony with the natural environment while also providing new access to enjoy nature in this area.

In 2010 Reynir received the Grand Cross of the Icelandic Order of the Falcon, an honorary recognition given by the president, for his pioneer work in planning and shaping of the built environment. He has also received international awards, for example the avalanche barriers in Siglufjörður were nominated for the Barba Rosa-European Landscape Prize in 2003 and received a special mention.

Reynir is a pioneer in landscape architecture in Iceland who has greatly influenced the city landscape and planning in Reykjavík, which we will continue to enjoy for many years to come.

Production and director: Einar Egils

The award ceremony took place for the 9th time on November 17th in Gróska, in the presence of a large crowd who celebrated outstanding design. Iceland's Design Award 2022 went to Plastplan and the design company Folk Reykjavík got recognition for best investment in design 2022 . 

The jury of the Icelandic Design Awards are Sigríður Sigurjónsdóttir, designer and director of the Museum of Design and Applied arts, chairman, María Kristín Jónsdóttir, designer, vice chairman, Ragna Fróðadóttir, designer, Þorleifur Gunnar Gíslason, designer, Arna Sigríður Mathiesen, architect, Margrét Kristín Sigurðardóttir for the Federation of Icelandic Industries and Daniel Byström, designer and Design Nation. 

The Icelandic Design Award honours the best Icelandic design and architecture annually. The importance of design in our society, culture and business has been growing steadily, and it is therefore vital to increase the understanding of good design and highlight the value of quality. 

Celebrating achievement and excellence, the Icelandic Design Award is given to a designer, a team, a studio or an architect in recognition of an outstanding new work, object, project or collection. The award is given to a recent project that demonstrates creative thinking, resourceful solutions, thorough presentation and professional methodology throughout the design process. Best investment in design recognises successful investment in design or architecture in the past year. It is awarded over to a company that has incorporated design in the core of its operations to create value and increase competitiveness. 

The Icelandic Design Award is established by Iceland Design and Architecture in collaboration with the Iceland University of the Arts, the Museum of Design and Applied Art, Promote Iceland, and SI - the Federation of Icelandic Industries.

November 17th, 2022
Álfrún Pálsdóttir
Aldís Pálsdóttir


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