The Eyes of Runavik

Winner of the 2016 Nordic Built Cities Challenge, The Eyes of Runavik rethinks traditional methods of construction to form a zero carbon community that promotes social interaction within the stark wilderness of the Faroe Islands.

Harmonising the wild and tamed

Minimal impact starts with understanding the conditions, accepting them, and making the most out of them. This is particularly true on the Faroe Islands, where the climate and terrain are moulded by the open ocean, narrow fjords and steep mountainsides, lashed by the omnipresent natural force of wind.


The Eyes of Runavik explores historical modes of farming and settlement, where the hagi, or meadow, is used for summer grazing, and the bøur, cultivated land, is used for growing crops. By adapting these concepts, the new development helps to create a unique harmony between the wild nature and human interventions. There are five, three storey buildings that house a total of 100 residential units in this development, all built on a steep slope offering breathtaking views over the fjords and the islands. Each building is a self-contained settlement shaped like an eye. The buildings are surrounded by hagi and encircle an inner cultivated microclimate – the bøur.

We asked ourselves – how can we create an environment on such a steep slope and in harsh weather conditions? We decided to transform those challenges into our tools and identity markers.
  • Client: Nordic Built Cities
    Location: Runavik, Faroe Islands
    Status: Competition 2016
    Area: 45,000 sqm total
    Apartments / Rooms: 100 apartments
    Awards: Winner 2016 Nordic Built Cities: Vertical Challenge category
    Visuals: White Arkitekter, Beauty and the Bit

The island’s stormy weather has historically kept residents indoors and governed the types of wildlife that could survive. The new bøur space inside each eye have been designed to achieve its own microclimate, making it possible to grow a wider variety of vegetables and plants and to encourage biodiversity on site. These sheltered exterior bøur spaces also serve as a new way for the community to socialise. The new spaces allow residents to gather, chat to each other, or tend to the plants in a safe and pleasant environment.

Creating new thinking in relation to traditional construction in Runavik
Jury panel, 2016 Nordic Built Cities Challenge.

Traditional construction, contemporary outcomes
Each 17,550 sqm eye is built using locally sourced, natural construction materials, like sheep wool and timber, but embodies the efficiency of Passivhaus, and is powered by renewable energy. This sets the conditions for a long term zero carbon community.



The circular settlements mutate into eye shapes as they individually respond to the unique terrain and the prevailing wind. Even the contours of the green roofs mimic the topography below. By incorporating minimal foundations that require almost no blasting or excavation, natural contours and wildlife is pre­served. The main path connecting the Eyes of Runavik to the town and landscape beyond is pedestrianised, further respecting the wild natural character of the island.

Contact & Team

Rickard Nygren

Rickard Nygren



[email protected]

+46 8 402 25 29

Charlotte Falstrup
Rickard Nygren
Iben Degn Pedersen
Viktor Sjöberg
Brooke Campbell-Johnston