A modernist approach to new urban areas consists of rationally hierarchical road networks and zoned division of functions. The design of Turf City uses the ideas of emergent urban growth: analysis and processes of physical and non-physical elements of the context seamlessly grow into the site. While new functions on site drive an drive outward growth. With a site of 150 Hectares, the site will grow over a significant period. Areas outside of the current growth expanse will be planted to encourage plant growth that will be integrated into the future urban fabric.
Turf city Vatnsmyri sets out to develop a clear local/global identity for the site that stands in strong relation with the existing region and future city of Reykjavik. The design of the built fabric has been conceived from the traditional Icelandic turf houses and the relationship with the landscape/ground, the space it produces and how these instances blur between each other. The aim is to use these conditions as an architectural rule for generating a new urban condition that offers the desired spatiality of evolved European cities and the functionality of designed cities of the 20th century, with a strong spatial and formal ambience we see as Icelandic. The massing volumes are seen as limitations based on environmental factors, but not strict formal approaches to each building design. Each block mass is further divided into several property boundaries in order to create diversity in the architecture of the area.
The urban fabric has been developed around very simple yet extremely effective rules. 1. The cohesive city grid: using the vectoral qualities of the existing grid of Reykjavik city centre as the devise for extension and expansion in this new territory. 2. Roof-strata: a devise that facilitates the density of the new plan and the identity of this new region. 3. Ground-strata: devise that blurs the edges of built and natural landscape generating new landscape conditions in Vatnsmyri. 4. Infrastructural loop: airport runways offer a ready-made base that organises the site through a string of public buildings, infrastructure and landscape
Several urban focal nodes are proposed at strategic locations. These include a train station linking the city centre to the international airport, new bridge across Skerjafjordur, a leisure port, new ministerial buildings, Museum of contemporary art, canal and landscape ribbons and public spaces.
In 1940 a British expeditionary force invaded the (then) Kingdom of Iceland, a neutral country in the ongoing Second World War. As a part of the strategic defence infrastructure for the country, British forces selected a boggy area adjacent to the small town of Reykjavik as a strategic airport RAF Reykjavik. The British were replaced by the American forces in 1941, and in 1946 the airport was handed over to the Icelandic government. The airport became a national and international civil airport after the war. As the city grew from 40,000 at the start of the war, to 90,000 in 1960, the international airport was moved to Keflavik, 50 Km. from the city centre.
With airport approaches approximately 200 meters from the city centre, the airport has put sever restrictions on the growth of the city centre. With increased pressure on urban densification, the city of Reykjavik pledged to move the airport and open the site up for the expansion of the city centre of Reykjavik.