Félagslegar íbúðir og fagurfræðileg sýn: verkamannabústaðir við Hringbraut í evrópsku samhengi.
Hafið er yfir allan vafa að með byggingu verkamannabústaða við Hringbraut voru sett ný viðmið um húsnæði fyrir alþýðu. Það átti við um húsnæðið sjálft og allan fastan húsbúnað. Lögð var áhersla á tækninýjungar og efnisval þar sem endingu og lágum viðhaldskostnaði var sérstakur gaumur gefinn, vandað til allra verka og tekið mið af nýjustu stefnum og straumum í byggingarlist. Efnalitlu fólki var gefið færi á að eignast íbúð á hagstæðum kjörum. Verkefnið átti sér erlendar fyrirmyndir; í kjölfar vaxandi iðnvæðingar flykktist sífellt fleira verkafólk til borganna og yfirfyllti allar vistarverur. Alvarlegur húsnæðisskortur kallaði á róttækar aðgerðir — á Íslandi sem og í Evrópu. Hér verður saga þessa merka áfanga í félags- og byggingarsögu rakin nánar með því að huga að fyrirmyndum, lagasetningu, hönnun og framkvæmdunum sjálfum. Íslenskri alþýðu virðist hafa verið ætlað allt það besta sem þá var fáanlegt, enda sóma verkamannabústaðirnir við Hringbraut sér vel í samhengi evrópskrar byggingarsögu.
The Hringbraut Workers' Apartments in a European Context This article presents the workers apartments on Hringbraut road, Reykjavík, in a European context. Built between 1932 and 1937, these apartments established new standards in urban housing for common Icelanders. In many ways the housing challenges in Reykjavík resembled those of other European cities, following developments in employment and lifestyles. In Reykjavík as well as other cities, long-term housing shortages were causing complex planning issues which could only be managed by a coordinated political effort aimed at improving conditions of the masses while no less guarding the interests of the upper classes — those who owned real estate and possessed financial means. European countries had implemented laws on social housing from 1889 to 1918, and during the third decades of the 20th century the construction of such housing provided a field for the architectural innovation known as Functionalism. Typical examples may still be viewed in major cities, from where this building style originally spread to smaller places and eventually to Reykjavík. The search for possible European models of the Reykjavík apartments leads one to various structures in cities such as Vienna, Berlin, and Frankfurt. Nonetheless, buildings in Reykjavík were low-rise and the standards were quite different from those in European metropolises, though various smaller European cities are fairly similar to Reykjavík, such as the German city of Halle. Following the practice elsewhere in Europe of engaging independent, professional architects to design social housing, Reykjavík also decided to hold an open ideas competition. The outcome, however, was that none of the proposals submitted were found acceptable, so the State Architect was asked to design the first and second phases of the housing project. These phases exemplify early Functionalism on the Icelandic architectural scene, even if they still demonstrated some classical traits, like buildings in Vienna that were a few years older. The design of the project's third and final phase was entrusted to a young architect named Gunnlaugur Halldórsson, who had won second prize in the original competition while still studying architecture in Copenhagen. The layout of the third phase is open and considerably more modern than that of the previous phases. Four demarcated rows of housing have front gardens on the sunny side and are favourably oriented for local winds. The buildings are more characteristic of Functionalism than the earlier phases and evoke well-known residential areas of Berlin and Frankfurt.