The other day we went sunset chasing out by Ægissíður, then took the long way home and drove out to the tip of historic Örfirisey where the oil tanks stand. Like most things in life, they look beautiful when lit up at twilight even though in the stark light of day they're definitely an industrial blight on the shorefront landscape.
Reykjavik's few tanks are nothing compared to the Richmond California oil refineries (which, as a kid, always fascinated me during night drives home from visiting Amma Steina and the family in Sacramento...lit up, they're absolutely gorgeous) but have definietly brought up the same concerns as the huge August 2012 fires in Richmond did: how realistic is it to continue to have such potentially dangerous materials so close to the encroaching city edge?
This 2006 report by Thorvaldur Helgi Auðunsson from the Department of Fire Safety Engineering at Lund University in Sweden takes a closer look at this issue, which looms over Reykjavik's near future, much like the equivalent dilemma that I wrote about in this post on the Hringrás reclamation center (I also mention Yoko's Imagine Peace memorial, which garnered worldwide attention with Lady Gaga's recent acceptance of the LennonOno Grant for Peace, as did our Awesome mayor Jón Gnarr's Jedi garb :)
As cities spread, industrial structures that used to be a safe-(ish) distance from the urban populace seem to suddenly appear on the doorsteps of city businesses and residents. A lot has happened in a grass-roots kind of fashion in this sector of the city, a pretty common development - as rents rise, urban populations push out into historically non-residential areas in search of affordable housing.
The city of Reykjavik has recently held a design competition to max the potential of Örfirisey and Granda, won by Erdem Architects, which includes a very cool indoor beach, the Warm Ice Paradise. I like this idea because back in the old days the folk of Reykjavik would cross the tidal isthmus out to what had always been known to be an elven-populated Örfirisey island for day swimming trips.
While searching for an English language history of the area I ran into a review of this awesome book I translated, 25 Beautiful Walks: Walking Trails of the Greater Reykjavik Area. Otherwise, here's a great source of info about Örfirisey from the official competition for the redesign of the Old Harbor region.
Posted by Iceland Eyes on October 14, 2012