Harpa Concert Hall

Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Centre

Henning Larsen Architects

Harpa means ‘harp’ in Icelandic. It is also the Icelandic name for the first month of spring, and thus a sign of brighter times. Today, the most visited attraction of the volcanic island carries the name – Harpa.

Between a rock-solid core and a crystalline shell, everyday life unfolds in the expansive foyer – where a varied mix of playing children, yoga classes, concert guests, and international conference delegates have embraced the space altogether.

Harpa Concert HallThe facade, created in collaboration with Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson, is inspired by the Icelandic scenery. The crystalline shell lets the rich variations of the Nordic daylight dance in the foyer.

Harpa unites art and culture – in form and content – and has become Iceland’s greatest icon and public attraction.[1]

Harpa Concert HallPanes of clear and colour-coated glass surround a steel framework of twelve-sided modules on the south facade of the Harpa Concert and Conference Centre.

Inspired by basalt crystals, the faceted glass scatters reflections of the surrounding harbour and sky, and presents a glittering wall of light after dark. A flattened version of this geometry surrounds the other elevations of the building.[2]

Harpa Concert HallThe Concert Hall and Conference Centre of 28,000 m2 is situated in a solitary spot with a clear view of the enormous sea and the mountains surrounding Reykjavik.[3]

Harpa Concert HallThe building features a foyer area in the front, with four halls in the middle and a backstage area with offices, administration, rehearsal hall and changing room in the back of the building.

The three large halls are placed next to each other with public access on the south side and backstage access from the north.

The fourth floor is a multifunctional hall with room for more intimate shows and banquets. The design was made to form a mountain-like massif similar to basalt rock on the coast.

Harpa Concert HallThe project is the home of the Iceland Symphony Orchestra and the Icelandic Opera, with the largest hall accommodating up to 1,800 seated patrons. Smaller meeting rooms are located throughout the building and an exhibition area is nearby.

Harpa Concert HallThe team worked with US consulting firm Artec Consultants Inc. for the acoustics, sound isolation and design of the theater and sound equipment in all the venues.

All together, the building was designed to set the stage for a diverse range of events – from music school concerts and picnic lunches to international gala performances and banquets.

Harpa Concert HallThe largest auditorium, Eldborg, is named after a famous volcanic crater in Iceland. Eldborg means “Fire Mountain”. This auditorium, which seats up to 1,800 guests, forms the red-hot powerhouse of Harpa’s inner core. The auditorium is built in concrete and surfaced with red-varnished birch veneer.

Harpa Concert HallAdjustable sound chambers around the auditorium add up to 30 percent more volume and makes it possible to regulate the reverberation time. With its characteristic shoe box shape, Eldborg’s intense expression is a striking contrast to the foyer.

Harpa Concert HallIn the daytime, the geometric figures create a crystalline structure which captures and reflects the light and initiates a dialog between the building, city, and natural scenery.

At night, the facades are illuminated by LED lights. The color and light intensity can be adjusted to bring the full-color spectrum into play and create a variety of different patterns, letters, or symbols.[4]

  1. Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Center / https://henninglarsen.com/en/projects/featured/0676-harpa-concert-hall-and-conference-center
  2. Harpa Concert and Conference Centre Reykjavík by Henning Larsen Architects / https://www.dezeen.com/2011/08/25/harpa-concert-and-conference-centre-reykjavik-by-henning-larsen-architects/
  3. Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Centre / Henning Larsen Architects / https://www.archdaily.com/153520/harpa-concert-hall-and-conference-centre-henning-larsen-architects
  4. Architectural Details: The Crystalline Façades of Iceland’s Harpa Concert Hall / https://architizer.com/blog/practice/details/harpa-concert-hall/