Turf House | 900
The tradition of the Icelandic vernacular architecture dates back to the ninth century with the arrival of the of Norse and British settlers who also brought the timber longhouse typology. Unfortunately, the settlers caused substantial deforestation, due to their limited consideration on natural preservation in their use of timber. This caused the Icelanders to look to alternative methods for building with limited timber resources and a harsh climate to consider. Hence, the Icelandic turf hut developed as a replacement for the longhouse.
The weather conditions in Iceland, played a significant role in which materials the Icelanders used to build their turf huts thereby the typology of the turf hut changed from north to south. In the south and west, the materials used for building was mainly stone, due to a lack of turf – this was because of bad soil, and therefore they had trouble extracting turf – and also to withstand the harsher climate conditions. However, in the north-eastern part of Iceland turf was the predominant material as it was easy to come by and offered good insulation against the cold climate. Here, the turf was carefully carved out from the ground in wedges, which could be stacked in a strong interlocking key, creating an elaborate pattern. The turf walls sat on a stone foundation supported by an interior timber construction.
The turf houses would consist of small unheated units such as winter stock and workshops, organised in front of the heated living residence or ‘badstofa’ where gatherings, eating, cooking, sleeping, working and socialising took place