Design of new sustainable community, Iceland

Garðabær, Urriðaholt, Conurbation, BREEAM

EFLA was commissioned to provide a range of key design services in the construction of a new residential neighbourhood at Urriðaholt in Garðabær, one of the towns in the Reykjavík conurbation. 

Set in a picturesque natural setting, the development is combined with 1625 residential units, from small apartments to big villas, as well as buildings used for cultural, commercial and service activities.

About this Project

Town of Garðabær


Garðabær, Iceland


The project's objective

EFLA is the designer of streets, roads, parking facilities, pathways, sewage and drainage systems, sustainable run-off system, street lighting systems as well as plot plans for the new community at Urriðaholt. The mixed neighbourhood requires various solutions, with residences, schools, day care centres, and other services and commercial activities.

A principal feature of the development is sustainability, with a run-off water system aimed at preserving water levels and quality in a nearby lake and balancing its in- and outflow. Therefore, limited number of storm drains are in the streets, but run-off water is led into open side channels with infiltration systems. In Iceland, geothermal water is often used to heat houses and the run-off is normally led into the storm water system, but in Urriðaholt it is piped separately and led out of the area.

During construction, strict environmental requirements are applied.

Environmental issues

The project is designed and managed according to BREEAM. At the boundary of the development lies lake Urriðavatn with surrounding wetlands. One of the projects goals is to maintain the lake's water quality and watershed, with consistent fresh water flow to the lake before and after the development.

EFLA's role

  • Project management
  • Design of streets and pavements
  • Design of parking facilities
  • Design of pathways, walking and cycling lanes
  • Design of sewage and drainage systems
  • Design of sustainable run-off water system
  • Design of street lighting systems
  • Design of plot plans
  • Coordination of supply systems
  • Geological survey
  • Tender documents

The project's long term benefits

Urriðaholt is the first neighbourhood in Iceland to receive BREEAM certification for planning, designed to ensure quality of life and environmental protection through the ecological structure of the area.