I have been following this old building issue for a few days now.
All of the Japanese tourists I’ve spoken with are against demolishing the old buildings on Laugavegur 4 to 6 in Reykjavík. If the street will be full of modern buildings, we do not need Laugavegur. We have plenty of those in big cities like Tokyo and Los Angeles, and I do not think Iceland would like to join such league.
Paris is preserving the way the old city looked. They are allowed to demolish everything except how it looks from the street. I do not now how they do it, but they do. They do not need to preserve entire buildings, just the front. What’s behind the old face can be very modern.
If Reykjavík starts demolishing everything old and start building boring shopping centers with lots of shiny glass, I am more than certain that it loses a considerable part of its charm. People who live there may not realize that, but we do. Most Japanese tourists who visit Iceland are probably from central Japan and we all are sick of modern buildings.
We love Reykjavík because of all those charming old buildings and the cozy feelings they project. I have noticed that you have been losing your charm in the past few years. Please do not lose any more of it.
Yuka Ogura, Tokyo, Japan