There are some spots in Reykjavik that have a sort of pull, and not always a good one. I suspect anyone versed in feng shui would know that it's a chi thing, energy that's stuck or abused in some manner, and can't flow as is its nature to do. This is one of those places, the part of Vallarstræti which has become basically an alley between Ingólfstorg and Austurvellir, with the well-known Nasa music venue there on the left. It's of course shadowy, stuck there between tallish buildings, and has been the service access for restaurants and hotels since forever, but there's something more going on there than just a lack of sunlight.
Once again, while just casually searching the netosphere for the history of this street I found all sorts of interesting things, most all in Icelandic unfortunately. For example, I found this 2011 article by our current prime minister (who I'd say should just stick to trying to have an effect on the development of our city and stay completely away from vain and puffy attempts to run a whole nation.) He's gathered some nice old-timey photos of this city center area, and is actually making a good case for preserving the historical buildings still standing, and even rebuilding some that were lost, for example Hótel Ísland, which burned down in 1944 (I don't know that I agree with rebuilding it where it was, right in the center of what's now Ingólfstorg, but his general idea is to rebuild with modern methods but in the old timber-and/or-corrugated-iron style.) I also found this collection of old photos in a short piece by Egill Helgason, a super nice and friendly, well-respected but bulldog-style journalist and media presence (video). It turns out that this is the 100th anniversary of the Great Fire of Reykjavík (here's one more article about that traumatic event, in Icelandic, but also with great photos, and also a good article from the Reykjavik Grapevine about the history of Reykjavik overall.)
If you take a look at the images in this article from the Cultural Heritage Agency, you'll see on page 5 a map with known Settlement Era structures, and how they literally overlap with what's currently a very poorly-utilized torg (long-time readers will remember this article about how it's basically a skate-park as is.) Given that this location has been lived on since the 9th century (the Reykjavik 871 museum is testament to that fact) I think care needs to be taken to make sure the energies of the area are kept in positive motion. There's active geothermal water right under the plaza as well, and it's important for water in any of its forms to be allowed to flow as it needs to, and not just forced as steam up metal pipes popping up from an expanse of paving-stones. Visitors come here hoping to experience something quaint and charming, something historical, and while I do not advise us locals dressing up in Viking period costumes or play-acting as naive elf-loving bumpkins to earn all that money tourists want to throw at us, I do think we should respect our heritage enough to not go all glass-and-steel-and cement in exactly this location, though we're doomed to do it in others.
So as I said, there are some spots in our city that seem to have something else going on, something ancient, or otherworldly, or energetically-charged, and it's of the utmost importance that we humans act as caretakers, and not oppressors or suppressors of the natural flow of things. In my humble opinion, this alley-street needs some love, and probably not in the manner that's currently on the table, as can be seen in this first-place proposal. Wouldn't it be nice to actually just have some actual nature at this spot? Maybe nicely managed, in accessible garden-park style, but nature as it was before any settler ever set foot there. Rip up the paving stones, help the waters to flow freely, add some moss and stones and benches, and let this heart of Reykjavík live again.
Follow Iceland Eyes on Facebook and Pinterest.