Following on from our last piece, we thank I’d Rather Be In Iceland for querying whether the Áskirkja church on the outskirts of Reykjavik was designed by the architect who came up with the new church in Stykkishólmur, previously discussed by us at this site. In a nutshell, the answer appears to be no. The main Stykkishólmur church website we found cited Jon Haraldsson as the architect, as did every other source on the Internet that provided a name. Our thanks, however, to the municipal authorities in Stykkishólmur for confirming this one. The principle architects on Áskirkja are listed here as Helga Hjálmarsson, Vilhjálms Hjálmarsson and Haraldar V. Haraldsson.
Even so, we’re grateful to I’d Rather Be In Iceland for drawing our attention to the striking similarity of these two buildings (judge for yourselves below). Not least because, in the process, we uncovered this noteworthy account which claims that the wholesale destruction wrought upon the cathedral in Coventry, England, during World War II did not prevent some stained glass from the old cathedral finding its way into Áskirkja itself. As many of you will know, Coventry has its new cathedral – but this prompts questions as to whether parts of the old cathedral have indeed been rehabilitated for the purposes of worship elsewhere.
In terms of architectural merit, we think that the Stykkishólmur church is bolder, brighter and rather airier than Áskirkja – externally, at least. As we discussed before, it does evoke the idea of space travel – and it thus helps that, unlike Áskirkja itself, it has spaces in its front facade that haven’t been filled in. But building dates indicate that it was that Áskirkja, still a very credible piece of modern structural thinking, that also came first – although whether it set the bar for this kind of idiosyncratic church architecture in Iceland is another matter entirely. As always, we’ll do our own research on this one at some point – but we welcome all input. Thanks a lot.