Reykjavik's shimmering glass Harpa Concert Hall just won the 2013 Mies van der Rohe Award! Designed by Studio Olafur Eliasson and Henning Larsen Architects, the project started construction right after Iceland’s economy tanked, but has proven itself to be a beacon of the nation's recovery. The glittering hall mimics basalt crystals, which are indigenous to Iceland.
The waterfront façade of the Harpa Concert Hall is made of individual polygonal glass frames resembling sparkly fish scales, which reflect water and light, creating a kaleidoscope of luminous colors. Aside from lighting up the harbor, the glass allows total usage of natural lighting during daytime, changing hues as the seasons change. In the evening, a system of LED lights illuminate the inside, giving the building a warm glow that is reflected in the dark waters of the harbor.
The massive 28,000 square meter interior, designed by Henning Larsen and Batteriid Architects, hosts four main halls which represent the elements. A fiery 1800 seat grand concert hall, called Eldborg, emulates Iceland’s volcanic activity. The smaller halls represent the Northern Lights (air), calcite crystals (earth), and a cold lagoon (water).
Harpa is the center of a project to re-enliven Reykjavik’s harbor front, drawing crowds as the new home of the Iceland Symphony Orchestra and the Icelandic Opera. The building also hosts conferences and meetings.
Images © Olafur Eliasson