Time Period 1600-2000
The baðstofa (communal living/sleeping room) from Skörð is typical of Icelandic living conditions in the 19th century. Originally a baðstofa was a heated bathhouse, probably a sauna of some type, generally located at the rear of the passage farmhouse (in which the separate units were linked by passages).
The oldest examples of the latter-day baðstofa as seen here appear in inventories of the 18th century. In the 16th and 17th centuries the baðstofa had been furnished with tables and benches.
In general, only the entrance to the farmhouse and storehouses had a wooden gable wall that faced forwards. This changed gradually in the 18th and 19th centuries, and in the final form of turf house, the gabled farmhouse, a row of gables face the front.
In later centuries all timber was recycled, as new timber was always in short supply. Many masterpieces of Icelandic woodcarving survive solely because timbers from churches were re-used over and over again in other buildings. The panels from Bjarnastaðahlíð, for instance, were found in the roofing of a storehouse in the 20th century.
As Reykjavík developed in the early 20th century, growing numbers of wooden houses were built. At that time the Swiss-chalet style was fashionable, and in Iceland such houses were clad in corrugated iron for protection from the elements. Concrete had, however, made its appearance before 1900. In 1915 a disastrous fire in Reykjavík destroyed many splendid wooden houses. After this, new construction of wooden houses was prohibited in Reykjavík, and concrete became the predominant building material.
The first apartment building in Reykjavík was built in 1902: Bjarnaborg, a wooden structure influenced by the Swiss-chalet style. The oldest concrete apartment building stands on Bergþórugata. As the city grew, apartment buildings played a growing role. By the 1960s whole districts of apartment buildings were constructed, for instance in the Breiðholt suburb of Reykjavík.