The quick modernisation of Iceland, which took place rapidly from the first decades of the 20th century onwards, brought not only fishing trawlers and cars into the country. Among all the techniques of modernity, steinsteypa
[concrete] was to become the key material that changed the built landscape of the island and was soon adopted by the first Icelandic architects, such as Rögnvaldur Ólafsson (1874–1914) and Guðjón Samúelsson (1887–1950). Interestingly, the main supporter of this material was Guðmundur Hannesson (1866–1946), a medical doctor and town planning enthusiast who wrote several articles and even a guidebook published in 1921, Steinsteypa. Leiðarvísir fyrir alþýðu og viðvaninga
[Concrete: A Guidebook for Common People and Beginners
]. In a country that was seeking an architectural self-representation, he understood the technical and formal possibilities that concrete could offer. By analysing his articles and publications, this essay aims to discuss the rhetoric of Guðmundur Hannesson and his role in writing an Icelandic chapter of the history of concrete, from its early stage of unmodern trial-and-error to the definition of a modern Icelandic architecture.
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