When the time came for Loji to decide on a career he considered studying architecture for a while, but opted for fine art in the end. Now, a few years on from having finished his studies and actively working as an artist, he has started a whole new adventure that evolves around just one subject, architecture. His passion for one of Iceland’s most renowned architects began at a very young age.
Sigvaldi Thordarson was a very productive architect in Iceland around the middle of last century. Passing away far too young, he managed to leave behind a permanent mark on Icelandic architecture, mostly in the capital Reykjavík where so many of his houses stand.
His two signature colors, mustard yellow and green- blue, were what caught Loji’s eye at a very young age, a spark that later turned into a pure passions for Sigvaldi and his work. After purchasing a very smart phone he decided that the best way to put it to good use, and simultaneously channel his interest in Sigvaldi, would be by opening an Instagram profile where he now continuously posts images of houses drawn by Sigvaldi Thordarson. Each photo is almost without exception followed by a heartfelt and sometimes very funny notes on Loji’s thoughts regarding each of the houses that he has managed to find, what he finds most interesting, what he does not like, if he would live there, etc. Loji has traveled all around Iceland taking photos of Sigvaldi’s houses and has asked his friends to participate by doing the same.
He has already announced that he is going to photograph each and every house Sigvaldi ever made. Never having any thought in mind other than that this hobby would be followed by just a few friends and family, he started taking pictures and posting them on Instagram. But his love for this mid- century architect has not gone unnoticed, and after being interviewed by a local TV station about a project so driven by passion and respect, he has almost managed to become a kind of ambassador for Sigvaldi and his beautiful houses.
He has a list of invites from proud owners of a Sigvaldi house all around Iceland, asking him to come by for a coffee and a tour of the house. He has even been tapped on the shoulder by Instagram followers at 4 am on a Saturday night, while queuing for a sandwich, telling him they follow his profile along with other family members, and generously giving him a tip on where he can find the next interesting house made by Sigvaldi.
So what is the final goal of this adventure, apart from taking on the task of photographing every single house Sigvaldi ever made, what would make this young artist most happy? Being able to buy and live in one of Sigvaldi’s houses is what he want’s to make happen one day. He already has a list of his favorite houses, some of them far from being the most characteristic of Sigvaldi’s work. His all time favorite house was for sale in the north of Iceland just recently, but he had to let that opportunity pass. He plans to make another round in several years to photograph all of the houses again, documenting the changes that they have gone through, something he finds particularly interesting.
Loji wants to see how people decide to take what he considers a work of art and sometimes change it regardless of the history it represents, and history is important in this context, which becomes very obvious when listening to him talk about the project and hearing him explain how he has collected all of Sigvaldi’s drawings, and the reasons why Sigvaldi was never selected by the state to make any official buildings. The explanation for that we may find one day in a book, along with other fascinating facts about Sigvaldi the architect and Icelandic society around the middle of last century. We are looking forward to that.
Háaleitisbraut 109-111, this apartment building was the last residence of Sigvaldi before he died in 1964. He designed the building him self in 1963, so the architect did not live there long. The abstract painter Svavar Guðnason, Sigvaldi’s best friend and one of Iceland’s best known artists, lived in the same building, and also had his studio there. The building is very symmetrical but unusually high for this type of apartment building, due to the placement of the garages on the ground floor.
Bakkastígur 1, located in down town Reykjavík, is the perfect cocktail in Loji’s opinion. The old house was built in 1919, but in 1952 Sigvaldi drew a new annex building, making the house a complete contrast of different styles.
Melabraut 30, “This house is one of the most beautiful Sigvaldi Thordarson ever made”, writes Loji. It carries all the characteristics of Sigvaldi’s work; the colours, the roof structure, the stone wall and last but not least the garage. “ I was 18 years old when I saw this house, working delivering the mail, and what really caught my attention were the extremely large windows running along the sides of the house. They look like they do not fit in with the structure of the house, but somehow they manage to become a part of it. This house was designed in 1956.”
Selás 8, Sigvaldi made many houses around Iceland in connection with electrical power stations, a kind of residencies for the person in charge. This house is one of Loji’s favourite in the series, located in Egilsstaðar and made in 1958. What he finds peculiar is how it seems to be made out of two different buildings one with more of an industrial feel to it and the other more humble and residential.
Búðareyri 5, In Reyðarfjörður is one of Loji’s all- time favourite houses by Sigvaldi, and one of the few wooden houses that Sigvaldi ever made. This house was initially made for the village tailour. It was drawn in 1953 and what really draws attention is the huge window on the side of the house.