Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Center

JA+U : Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Center by Henning Larsen Architects © Nic Lehoux

Photography by Nic Lehoux

JA+U : Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Center by Henning Larsen Architects © Nic Lehoux

Photography by Nic Lehoux

JA+U : Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Center by Henning Larsen Architects © Henning Larsen Architects

Site plan courtesy of Henning Larsen Architects

The 28,000 m2 (301,389 ft2) concert hall and conference center is located on the harbor of the Iceland’s capital, Reykjavík.

JA+U : Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Center by Henning Larsen Architects © Nic Lehoux

Photography by Nic Lehoux

JA+U : Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Center by Henning Larsen Architects © Nic Lehoux

Photography by Nic Lehoux

The south facade – facing downtown – is composed of twelve-sided three-dimensional glass units designed in collaboration between Henning Larsen Architects, local architects Batteríið Architects and the Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson.

JA+U : Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Center by Henning Larsen Architects © Nic Lehoux

Photography by Nic Lehoux

JA+U : Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Center by Henning Larsen Architects © Nic Lehoux

Photography by Nic Lehoux

The jewelry-like wall reflects the gentle Icelanding sunlight and changes its color and atmosphere at every moment.

JA+U : Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Center by Henning Larsen Architects © Nic Lehoux

Photography by Nic Lehoux

JA+U : Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Center by Henning Larsen Architects © Nic Lehoux

Photography by Nic Lehoux

The building is loosely divided into two parts. The west volume contains conference rooms and the east one houses the music hall.

JA+U : Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Center by Henning Larsen Architects © Henning Larsen Architects

Second floor plan courtesy of Henning Larsen Architects

JA+U : Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Center by Henning Larsen Architects © Nic Lehoux

Photography by Nic Lehoux

JA+U : Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Center by Henning Larsen Architects © Nic Lehoux

Photography by Nic Lehoux

Below, architect Henning Larsen – this year’s Praemium Imperiale winner – explains the unique glass facade:

As the rest of the building, the design of the facades is inspired by nature. In particular, the characteristic local basalt formations have provided the inspiration for the geometric facade structure.

Made of glass and steel in a twelve-sided space-filling geometric modular system called the 'quasibrick', the building appears a kaleidoscopic play of colours, reflected in the more than 1000 quasibricks composing the southern facade. The remaining facades and the roof are made of sectional representations of this geometric system, resulting in two-dimensional flat facades of five and six-sided structural frames. In order to develop these ideas the team worked with three-dimensional computer models, finite element modelling, various digital visualisation techniques as well as maquettes, models and mock-ups.

Light and transparency are key elements in the building. The crystalline structure, created by the geometric figures of the facade, captures and reflects the light - promoting the dialogue between the building, city and surrounding landscape.

One of the main ideas has been to "dematerialise" the building as a static entity and let it respond to the surrounding colours - the city lights, ocean and glow of the sky. In this way, the expression of the facade changes according to the visual angle. With the continuously changing scenery, the building will appear in an endless variation of colours.

The project was featured in our magazine, A+U 2011:09 under the theme of “Art and Architecture”.