Lonely Planet Writer

Faroe Islands newest town hall is a bridge linking two villages

A new and innovatively-designed town hall is bridging villages in the Faroe Islands and breathing life back into the community.

Eysturkommuna Town Hall. Image by Nic Lehoux / Henning Larsen

Eysturkommuna Town Hall, designed by Danish architects Henning Larsen, serves the neighbouring villages of Gøta and Leirvík. The villages are located on the eastern coast of the Faroe Islands (a self-governing North Atlantic archipelago which is part of Danish territory) on the island of Eysturoy. The municipality is home to around 2000 people across a population of five settlements, some which date back 1200 years to Viking times.

The waterway (which runs underneath the town hall) used to be an important part of the bustling, creative community. It served as a space for locals to gather for events and special occasions, including music festivals and traditional New Year’s Eve celebrations. However, when a major fishing factory moved into the area, the landscape changed. Eysturkommuna Town Hall is just the first step in a major regeneration project of the region. In the coming years, the local community will be revived with buildings and events that support public life.

The village of Eysturkommuna in the Faroe Islands. Image by Nic Lehoux / Henning Larsen

Eysturkommuna Town Hall is an effort to recapture some of the community spirit in a Faroe Islands’ region that is fiercely proud of its sporting and cultural heritage. Taking inspiration from from nature and traditional grass-roofed houses, the town hall’s grass-covered roof is also a pedestrian bridge that connects with pathways on either side of the river. A landscaped space on one side of the bridge is open to the public and offers a sheltered gathering space for picnics and swimming.

Eysturkommuna Town Hall is now a central part of the community. Image by Nic Lehoux / Henning Larsen

Construction on the town hall began in 2015, and the 700-square-metre (7500-square-foot) centre has now opened its doors and can accommodate exhibitions, talks, concerts and other municipal events. The space centres around a circular table over a glass floor with views of the water below (where trout can be seen) and the layout was inspired by the kivas, the ceremonial chambers of the Pueblo Native Americans.

Eysturkommuna Town Hall’s interior.

An exterior sound and light installation of artist Jens Ladekarl Thomsen, draws sound from the environment and allows passers-by believe that ‘the house speaks’ with its surroundings.

Eysturkommuna Town Hall. Image by Nic Lehoux / Henning Larsen

“A central theme in traditional Faroese architecture is the blurred line between nature and building, the fact that the spectator has difficulties distinguishing where the landscape ends and the building begins,” Ósbjørn Jacobsen, partner at Henning Larsen explains. “The primary conceptual idea behind the design of the town hall is driven by the notion of this fleeting line between landscape and building.”

More information on Eysturkommuna can be found here.