Hafnarhólmi Bird Watching and Service Building

Photo Credit Icon Júlia Brekkan

Hafnarhólmi Bird Watching and Service Building

  • Icon for wildlife Wildlife
  • Icon for facilities Facilities

Hafnarhólmi islet is one of the best places in Iceland to watch puffins. Here, a signature attraction has been created to attract visitors, consisting of a pathway and a staircase from the harbour to the islet and a service building by the harbour.

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    Increasing the attraction of the area

    Hafnarhólmi was previously owned by a farmer who donated the land to Birdlife Iceland, Fuglavernd. Birdlife Iceland's intention is that nature conservation, ecosystem monitoring and field education about the dynamics of nature will be prominent in the long-term utilization of the area. The area lacked tourist attractions and amenities to serve visitors. Therefore, a service building and viewing platforms were constructed at the site. All construction has been carried out with the aim to protect nature and wildlife.

    Design competition as a tool for design in nature

    At the time, the former owner wanted to develop a bird watching facility in Borgarfjörður. On his initiative, infrastructure for bird protection and bird watching was installed at the islet. A staircase leads visitors from the harbour up to a wooden footbridge and viewing platforms. A small bird watching hut is located on top of the islet, where one can seek shelter and watch the birds. As the number of tourists increased, a design competition was held for the construction of a new service building. The competition was won by Architects Anderson & Sigurdsson.

    Key facts

    • Location

      Hafnarhólmi, East Borgarfjordur, East-Iceland

    • GPS points

      N65° 32' 31.471" W13° 45' 17.318"

    • Protection Framework

      Birdlife Iceland is currently preparing a protection plan for the Hafnarhólmur islet

    • Estimated number of visitors a year

      46,810 visitors in 2019

    • Low Season

    • High Season

      977 guests, 27 July 2019

    • Project Owner

      Birdlife Iceland owns 70 per cent of the land at Hafnarhólmi. The land belongs to the Municipality of Borgarfjörður Eystri, which owns the remaining 30 per cent.

    • Designer

      Pathways and viewing platforms were initiated by Magnús Þorsteinsson. The design of the service building was in the hands of Anderson & Sigurdsson Architects.

    • Year of construction

      2000 and 2020

    • Materials

      Painted timber

    • Grants

      2015: Design competition: ISK 3,000,000 2016: Local planning: ISK 13,000,000 2017: ISK 20,000,000 2018: Service building, facilities, viewing platform: ISK 76,800,000 Total of: ISK 112,800,000 from the Tourist Site Protection Fund