Out of the ashes of Iceland’s economic collapse rises the Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Centre in Reykjavík with an 1,800-seat main performance space, meeting rooms, exhibition spaces, boutiques, and restaurants, all tucked under a kaleidoscopic, glass-and-steel facade designed with artist Olafur Eliasson. Programmatically, the 300,000-square-foot structure melds exacting venues for the Iceland Symphony Orchestra and Icelandic Opera—acoustic design is by Artec—with more workaday convention facilities.
Designed by Copenhagen-headquartered Henning Larsen Architects with Batteríio Architects of Iceland, the project is one of several intended to revitalize Reykjavík’s East Harbor district, where a Henning Larsen–designed masterplan is helping the city catch up with resurgent waterfront hubs in Oslo and Hamburg.
The crystalline exterior—recalling the basalt columns that dot the country’s landscape—is draped with colored glass panels that reflect the harbor surroundings. On the interior, the faceted, honeycomb-like modules create a warm sense of enclosure while offering expansive views of the North Atlantic. Developed by the holding company Portus along with the Icelandic government and the city of Reykjavík, the decades-in-the-making complex arrives as an apropos symbol of the nation’s rebirth.
Architect: Henning Larsen Architects and Batteríio Architects
Location: Reykjavík, Iceland
Completion: May 2011