Timber-framed farm proves wood’s potential in the land of fire and ice

Not far from Iceland’s largest glacier, Vatnajökull, Flatey Farm has used a large timber-framed building to refresh their dairy farming operations, with reduced carbon emissions and increased welfare for animals and employees.

Flatey Farm, Developed by: Límtré Vírnet and Gláma Kím Arkitektar 

Iceland isn’t known for its abundance of forests and timber production, however some pioneering projects are starting to utilise wood sourced from Iceland’s Nordic neighbours to innovate in the rapidly growing construction sector. Since 2015 a large timber construction has given a new lease of life to Flatey Farm, located in the South East of the country. Taking inspiration from the local indoor football hall in nearby Höfn, a 4,700m2 gulam structure on the farm houses over 200 cows in one of Iceland’s largest dairy farms. The design of large wooden free-bearing frames also incorporates a natural ventilation system reducing the building’s energy demand.

With sustainability at the heart of the new business model, the developers sought out FSC certified timber, which is increasingly gaining traction in the Icelandic market. Based on a lifecycle analysis of the building, the carbon emissions associated with the timber, including transport, are 93,000kg CO2, which is significantly less than for a building of this size constructed from concrete and steel. The wooden structure has also created a more healthy environment for both animals and workers, as well as reducing the maintenance costs over the lifetime of the building. The building was also designed to be disassembled at the end of its life in a way that it can be easily reconstructed for new purposes such as a sports hall.


  • innovation benifits icon: innovation benifits icon
  • innovation benifits title: ENVIRONMENT
  • innovation benifits text: As well as reducing the carbon emissions of the building’s material’s, the wooden construction generated far less waste during construction, and the design results in low energy consumption throughout its lifetime.
  • partnership benifits icon: partnership benifits icon
  • partnership benifits title: SOCIAL & LOCAL
  • partnership benifits text: The building has provided a boost to the local economy through the production of local dairy products, and the creation of an attached café aimed at the thousands of tourists regularly visiting the area.
  • economic benifits Icon: economic benifits Icon
  • economic benifits title: PARTNERSHIPS
  • economic benifits text: Flatey Farm has entered into a deep partnership with the local community, and welcomes regular visitors and school groups, reflecting the transparent nature of the project.

The Nordic Wood in Construction Secretariat is hosted by EIT Climate-KIC

The project is funded by the Nordic Council of Ministers.