The Building

An Architectural Landmark


Oddsson, also known as “JL húsið” was built by Jón Loftsson in 1948. The building has played a crucial role in the development of trade in Iceland. Jón was born in 1891 in a small fishing village north of Iceland. He studied agriculture, worked on a herring boat and saved up money to travel abroad and became familiar with the retail industry. It is considered to be a turning point in the history of Icelandic architecture when Jón founded Vikurfélagið in 1935, exploiting purnice (a light concrete used in construction since roman times) in Snæfellsjökull, and shipping the materials to Reykjavik. He used the materials to build Oddsson with architect Sigmundur Halldórsson, and there he settled the Vikurfélag headquarters.

What formerly characterized the country's architecture landscape was the lack of suitable domestic construction materials. Consequently it was very expensive to build sustainable houses. The advent of Vikurfélagið triggered further production of Icelandic materials transforming the industry. Jón Loftsson was a resourceful businessman, experimenting with the rapidly evolving market Reykjavik was at the time. He began selling the basic construction materials; wood, iron and cement. In 1946 he opened up a car dealership and turned the place into a beautiful department store and factory. The house has played an important role in Reykjavik's industrial history. Since then the building has housed elementary schools, pharmacies, gyms and offices. In the past two decades its cultural role has become more prominent; housing the Reykjavik School of Visual Arts and hosting events such as art galleries and music festivals.

Ask any local, they'll point you to the JL húsið.