Iceland’s Prime Minister, Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson, has decreed that the hall inside former Icelandic club and community centre, NASA, is to be protected as a cultural heritage site, reports Vísir.
NASA was shut down in 2012 to make way for a hotel development, though it has sat largely abandoned in past years. The move, controversial at the time, lead to a 15.000 strong petition submitted to the government and the Architectural Heritage Committee to protect the building.
The move to protect the hall however, does not immediately stop the hotel from developing as it only applies to the music hall. The decree specifies that the hall must remain true to the original layout and architecture and any repairs should honour the building’s history.
The exterior of the building itself, Thorvaldsensstræti 2 is already protected.
In an interview with Stöð 2 the prime minister said he hoped the hall would be used in the way it always has been, for concerts and communal events. Sigmundur Davíð added that he couldn’t see how that would get in the way of the hotel developer’s plans and thought it would be a solid compromise for both parties.
“I sincerely hope that this is an indication that NASA will remain a concert venue,” said pop legend Páll Óskar, who has been working to save NASA for many years. “There’s enough room for more music venues in central Reykjavík, and nothing could replace NASA.”
Thorvaldsensstræti 2 or NASA as it has become known, was first built in 1835. The building we know today was built in 1878 and was intended as a college for women (Kvennaskólinn í Reykjavík), though the school eventually relocated. The building was extended in 1946 and served as a community centre and restaurant until 2002 when it was reinvented as a nightclub.