Héraðsskólinn was designed by Guðjón Samúelsson, considered by most the greatest architect in Iceland´s history. The building was constructed in 1928.
The actual building of the structure was carried out by Jónas from Hrifla, a powerful politician and true believer in education, art, and culture. He envisioned the house as a dominant force in education and culture in Iceland.
Ingunn and Bodvar owned the land on which Héraðsskólinn would eventually be built. They fought a long battle to get the school built in Laugarvatn, which at this point in its history was nothing more than a piece of land adjoining a lake. In fact, the entire town would be built up around the school after its construction. Ingunn and Bodvar ultimately gave their land to the Icelandic state, so that the school could be built in what they believed was the perfect location. If not for them, neither the school nor the town would exist.
Halldór Kiljan Laxness (1902-1998) was a twentieth-century Icelandic writer. Throughout his career Laxness wrote poetry, newspaper articles, plays, travelogues, short stories, and novels.
Major influences on his writings include August Strindberg, Sigmund Freud, Sinclair Lewis, Upton Sinclair, Bertolt Brecht and Ernest Hemingway. He received the 1955 Nobel Prize in Literature, and is the only Icelandic Nobel laureate.
He frequently stayed at Héraðsskólinn during summers working on his novels. In fact, his novel; Sjálfstætt Fólk (Independent People) by many considered his best work, was written here in 1934. Need inspiration for writing? He left his typewriter with us at Héraðsskólinn. A truly magical artifact, the machine sits on a mantle at the entrance to the hostel.
Jónas from Hrifla
Jonas Jonsson from Hrifla (1885-1968), was a revolutionary figure in Iceland´s history. He was a politician, minister of education, and a true believer in progress.
Jonas had a vision for Laugarvatn – a village where education, art and culture could thrive and grow in the most beautiful surroundings. To bring his idea to life, Jonas from Hrifla built Héraðsskólinn in 1928. Long after he passed away the school remained a foundation of education and culture in Icelandic history.
Guðjón Samúelsson is considered by many to be the foremost Icelandic architect. He designed Héraðsskólinn and many other famous buildings in Iceland including Hallgrímskirkja, the landmark church that looks over downtown Reykjavik. In addition, he´s credited with designing the University of Iceland building and the National Theater of Iceland.
Among other things, Samúelsson left his desk to Héraðsskólinn. If in search of inspiration, drop by to sketch on the master´s desk.
Initiation of our last government
It is a true testament to the importance of Héraðsskólinn in Icelandic society that the current government, formed in June 2013, was initiated at Héraðsskólinn by the new prime minister, Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson and finance minister, Bjarni Benediktsson.
This location was chosen due to the importance of the building in Iceland´s educational and cultural history.