The City Hall is located on the northern bank of the lake 'Tjörnin' in the historic centre of Reykjavík. The design is symbolic of its double function: To the north the City Council Building, housing the political functions, is massive and orthogonal, influenced by the manmade regularity of the buildings in the Kvos district. To the south the Office Building, the forum of administration and officials, has a different and lighter appearance. Workspaces and conference rooms open to the south towards the lake. At the junction of Vonarstræti and Tjarnargata there is a square with a rounded pond where the water and its life-forms are contrasted with bustling urban life. There one can admire the moss-grown wall, which is one of the special features of the building, inspired by the mossy rock walls of Icelandic nature.
The idea of a city hall in Reykjavik is almost as old as the city itself. For years the municipal authorities explored the possibility of building a city hall, studied locations and invited proposals for its design. It wasn't until 1986 that the city executive council decided to hold an open competition for a city hall. A total of 38 proposals were submitted and the panel of judges announced their decision in June1987. First prize went to a proposal by two young architects, Margrét Harðardóttir and Steve Christer, who had both graduated from the Architectural Association School of London in 1984. The construction of Reykjavik City Hall began in 1988 and it was inaugurated on April 14th 1992. In the winning proposal the architects conceived Reykjavík City Hall primarily as an interface where the contrasts of nature and city intertwine into a complex, three dimensional whole.
The Lake Room
Tjarnarsalur (The Lake Room) is the largest function room in City Hall, intended for meetings, exhibitions and receptions. It is normally open to the walkway but can be screened off if necessary. Unless there is a function ongoing in the hall, guests are free to roam the room and observe a large scale relief map of Iceland. It is constructed of a 1 mm thick cardboard, cut out along the height lines of the cards. The cardboard blocks are mounted on wooden plates which are screwed onto the aluminum frame. The model is in the scale of 1: 50,000 but the elevation is double so that the height scale is 1: 25,000. The total area of the model is 76.4 square meters, The model was built by carpenters at the Model Workshop of the City of Reykjavík: Axel Helgason, Árni Hreidar Árnason, Jónas Magnússon, Kristján Sigurðsson, Sigurður Halldórsson; and painted by Sigurður Pálsson.
When the City Hall opened in 1992, the Iceland model was found a permanent place in the western part of The Lake Room where it has been on display ever since. Conveniently, it can easily be wheeled off into a built-in storage room to make room for events.