Contractors this week demolished Exeter House, on Tryggvagata in Reykjavík, against planning rules. All work on the site has been stopped and the City of Reykjavík is likely to report the demolition to the police for criminal investigation. The chairman of the planning committee describes the action as vandalism.
Exeter House was built in 1906 at Tryggvagata 12 in the city center. The timber house was blue in color. The plot is currently part of a building site for a new hotel on the corner of Tryggvagata and Norðurstígur and the neighboring building, number 14, was demolished last month, with planning permission.
The planning permission allowed for developers to demolish the back section of Exeter House, increase its height by one floor, extend out into the back garden, and then rebuild keeping the original appearance and front aspect intact.
“It looks terrible. I was going past here late last evening and I couldn’t believe my own eyes when I saw what was going on and what had already happened: a giant machine tearing the house down. I immediately contacted the buildings inspector and this morning (Thursday morning), eight o’clock this morning, he was on site and all work had been stopped. It is completely without permission,” chairman of the city environment and planning committee Hjálmar Sveinsson told RÚV.
The demolition is said to have come as a great surprise to the City of Reykjavík, as developers at the site had been in good and regular contact with authorities up until this point. The development company Tryggvagata ehf. must now submit a written explanation to the City within seven days. “The City takes this matter very seriously and we are considering reporting it to the police. Is this vandalism? Yes, this is vandalism,” Hjálmar says.