Friday 19. August 2022

New student housing in Ísafjörður

A new student housing association was founded on August 16th and it's role is to build and maintain new apartments in Ísafjörður for students of the University Centre of the Westfjords. The University Centre of the Westfjords is the only founding member and has contributed 1 million ISK to the project. The University Centre nominated eight representatives for the council, all from the Westfjords and with different backgrounds to ensure that a wide group of the society is being represented. Four people were nominated as representatives for the residents, both former and current students of the University Centre of the Westfjords. The board of the new student housing associations consists of Halldór Halldórson, CEO of the Íslenska kalkþörungafélagið company, former director of the University Centre of the Westfjords and former mayor of Ísafjörður, Sigríður Ólöf Kristjánsdóttir, director of Vesfjarðarstofa and Hildur Dagbjört Arnardóttir, landscape architect.


The topic of the founding meeting for the student housing association included among other things the housing issue in Ísafjörður, that is, the lack of housing available for students. This particular issue has already contributed to a bottle neck problem, which could further affect the University Centre. This influenced the decision to apply for a capital contribution to build new housing for students.


The meeting started with an opening from Peter Weiss, the director of the University Centre of the Westfjords, who has been a crucial part in the preparation for the founding of the student housing association. Elías Jónatansson, chairman of the board of the University Centre of the Westfjords then proceeded to go over the events leading up to the founding of the student housing association and led the meeting.


Lynnee Jacks, former student of the University Centre of the Westfjords and resident representative, presented the results from her survey where she asked students about what they deemed most important regarding the new student housing buildings. The most important part for the students was affordable housing, followed by good kitchen facilities and sufficient storage space. Students also mentioned how they wanted to feel like they are a part of the community and they would like the outside area of the new buildings to be accessible to locals. This aligns with the architects' intentions to extend Aðalstræti, the main street of Ísafjörður, out towards Fjarðarstræti where the new student buildings will rise, and all the way to the walking path by the sea side at the northernmost part of Eyri.


An application for a contribution to the capital funding has now been accepted by HMS for an 18% capital contribution, 4% additional contribution along with a regional contribution. The town council of Ísafjörður has also agreed to support the project with a capital contribution. These contributions from public authorities are extremely important for the success of the project.


It is clear that there is a shortage of housing for students in Ísafjörður given that there are 70 people on a waiting list according to the town's housing program. The new buildings consist of 40 new apartments and will meet a large part of the demand. It is estimated that at each time, there will be around 75-80 students living in Ísafjörður, but the University Centre of the Westfjords reached that number for the first-time last year. The construction period is estimated to last for around 13 months, from the commencement of site works to the completion time of the building, however, factors such as the design work could impact that period. It is therefore too early to tell when the project will be finished and an important and intricate task awaits the new board of the student housing association.


Photo from koa architects
Photo from koa architects