Hlemmur has been planned as a city center square, a space for various events, and play in a safe environment. It will be recreated as a public space for all ages with access for everyone, and vehicle traffic will be rerouted from the square.

A new and improved Hlemmur

New surfacing materials, seating, play and leisure areas along with greenery will be dominant features of the new Hlemmur Square, along with an eco-friendly approach to surface water management. A new biking path will be laid alongside the area, connecting Hverfisgata and Laugavegur up to Bríetartún.

Once the developments are complete, the area will truly be a square, not only with increased greenery and leisure spaces but also artwork. Sigurjón Ólafsson's Pack Horse will be moved from its place to the new area closer to the food hall. There will also be a water feature reminiscent of the water basin that was at Hlemmur back in the day.

Teikning af nýjum Hlemmi. Börn að leik, tré, list og hellulögð stétt.


Reykjavík City launched an idea search for a new planning of the Hlemmur area at the end of 2017. Ideas for the planning arrangement were sought, with attention to the location of high-quality public transportation in the area and new design for the square around Hlemmur.

Proposals from the architectural firms Mandaworks and DLD were selected for further development work on Hlemmur for the redesign of the area.

Completed changes

The area has been planned as a future gathering place for Reykjavík residents and all Icelanders.

There is great satisfaction with the renovated area from Hlemmur Food Hall to Snorrabraut, where development concluded last fall. The area has acquired a new and friendly appearance with diverse planting beds, trees, and good space for people.

The material selection at the new Hlemmur shows a connection to Icelandic nature with basalt slabs and large natural rocks in the beds. The planting beds not only create a more enjoyable environment but also contribute to biodiversity and are good solutions for surface water with natural pathways for rainwater.

What happens next?

The transformation of Hlemmur will occur in several phases. Laugavegur south of the food hall will now be renewed and connected to the new section where work had been paused.

This spring, Strætó Public Transport will temporarily relocate to a new location at Skúlagata, and a new bus stop will also be introduced at the corner of Laugavegur and Snorrabraut in mid-May. This creates a better and safer space for vibrant daily life.

In the section from Rauðarárstígur by the Gasworks and over the intersection of Laugavegur and Rauðarárstígur, pipes need to be replaced and a new surface laid. During the construction, the main entrance to the food hall will be on the north side.

The goal is for this part of the development of the area to be completed by summer 2025.

Hlemmur has a long history

Hlemmur takes its name from a trapdoor, or “hlemmur”, built over Rauðará, and there was also a water post at Hlemmur where thirsty pack horses could quench their thirst. Laugavegur was laid down to make it easier for laundry women to walk to the washing pools in Laugardalur. All these memories are woven into the proposal.

It's worth mentioning that in sustainable drainage systems, water is made visible on the surface and connected to plant beds that utilize the water. Vegetation creates shelter and frames the edges of the square along with buildings, and is also a pervasive element in street spaces.

Pedestrian traffic will be given high priority, with main walking directions being clear and prioritized where they intersect driving lanes. The Square is designed with accessibility for all in mind, with grade changes on main routes resolved with this consideration, as well as access to buildings.

The proposal includes high-quality public transport stations, heated shelters with modern technology and conveniences that welcome the user.

Main concepts of the proposal

  • Create a framework for diverse daily life in the square, provide shelter, and exciting leisure areas
  • Work with historical references
  • Enhance public transportation as an exciting option and support soft modes of travel
  • Greenify the area and use sustainable drainage systems.
  • Shape a framework for leisure spaces that both children and adults can enjoy
  • Utilize water as an experience, such as the steam linked to the journeys of the laundry women and the memory of Rauðará: At the end of Laugavegur and Rauðarárstígur, where the square opens up, there's a steam area that serves as a reminder of the laundry springs in Laugardalur. Laugavegur was laid out to make it easier for the laundrywomen to carry their loads to the springs. The pillar with the carrying beam at the Square has been lowered, and a bench is now part of the pillar’s design. The steam will take on a new dimension in the dark with lighting that brings out a spectrum reminiscent of rainbows or northern lights.

The square will be a public space for everyone

Buildings with various functions are part of the overall square design; they are covered spaces that extend activity onto the square. In addition to buildings under glass, there are two open steel structures on the square that can be utilized as needed.

The North Pole feature is prominently placed and connects to the square booths on both sides with glass. In later stages of the design process, it was separated to ensure that all buildings stand independently.

Green and friendly Hlemmur

Hlemmur will be greenified both for shelter and aesthetic enhancement. On the north side of the square, continuous beds with trees and undergrowth provide shelter along with the square booths present. Laugavegur and Rauðarárstígur have continuous vegetation that sometimes serves a role in rain gardens.

More about the area

Here you can see the land-use plan for Hlemmur and its surroundings, along with an explanatory report and design guidelines.

The land-use plan supports the objectives of a dense and hospitable urban construction, as described in the municipal plan, aimed at fostering a good communal life and coexistence among diverse groups.

Teikning af Hlemmi um vetur.


We will strive to provide good information sharing during the construction period.

  • Department of Environment & Planning, Borgartún 12-14, 105 Reykjavík, phone 411 1111
  • Veitur Utilities, Bæjarháls 1, 110 Reykjavík, phone 516 6000