Registration of Century-Old Buildings yet to Begin

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Registration of Century-Old Buildings yet to Begin

By Ásta Andrésdóttir
Houses in Reykjavík

Photo: Páll Stefánsson.

The documentation of every 100-year-old building in Iceland is going very slowly. According to a new legislation that came into effect just over a year ago, all such buildings have preservation status but the records of the Land Registry of Iceland are not always a reliable source.

Pétur H. Ármannsson division manager at the Cultural Heritage Agency of Iceland told ruv.is that the agency has not started a comprehensive registration of these buildings. “That is perhaps because detailed information regarding the age of these buildings are not quite clear. Research has been made in regards to many urban areas in the country, but with many 
buildings the original building years is still unclear.” 

The National Registry’s real estate data base is the only total registry of Icelandic buildings; but that one is not completely reliable because often the wrong year is listed. In many instances the year of the first renovation is registered as the building year, which means that the house can always be older than it is listed as being, Pétur explained. 

He emphasized that the 100 year preservation law is first and foremost a precautionary measure to ensure that no building is demolished or changed without due consideration. “The law is not intended to forbid the demolition or renovation of buildings that reach 100 years. That would be impossible.”

It is estimated that the number of houses more than a century old is somewhere between 3,000 and 3,500, Pétur added. “That is not a very high ratio compared to other nations.”
 

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