Harpa (Icelandic pronunciation: [ˈhar̥pa], English: Harp) is a concert hall and conference centre in Reykjavík, Iceland. The opening concert was held on 4 May 2011. The building features a distinctive colored glass facade inspired by the basalt landscape of Iceland.[2]

Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Centre
Harpa, tónlistar- og ráðstefnuhús
General information
TypeConcert hall & conference centre
LocationReykjavík, Iceland
AddressAusturbakki 2
Town or cityReykjavík
Coordinates64°9′1″N 21°55′57″W / 64.15028°N 21.93250°W / 64.15028; -21.93250
Current tenantsIceland Symphony Orchestra
The Icelandic Opera
The Reykjavík Big Band
Maximus Musicus
Construction started12 January 2007
Opened13 May 2011
Cost€164 million[1]
Height43 metres (141 ft)
Technical details
Floor area28,000 square metres (300,000 sq ft)
Design and construction
Architecture firmHenning Larsen Architects
Other designersOlafur Eliasson, facade design
Artec Consultants, acoustics design
Main contractorÍAV
Other information
Seating capacity1,600–1,800 (Eldborg, main hall)
450 (Norðurljós)
750 (Silfurberg)
195 (Kaldalón)
Venue website

History edit

Harpa was designed by the Danish firm Henning Larsen Architects in co-operation with Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson. The structure consists of a steel framework clad with geometric shaped glass panels of different colours.[3][4] The building was originally part of a redevelopment of the Austurhöfn area dubbed World Trade Center Reykjavík, which was temporarily abandoned when the 2008 Icelandic financial crisis took hold. The development was originally intended to include a 400-room hotel, luxury apartments, retail units, restaurants, a car park and the new headquarters of Icelandic bank Landsbanki. These related developments were put on hold, but resumed construction by 2018 and as of 2022, the development is almost complete. The Reykjavik Edition Hotel, managed by Marriott International opened in 2021 along with retail and restaurant units; Landsbankinn is projected to move into their newly constructed headquarters in early 2023.[5][6][7]

East side of Harpa

Construction started in 2007 but was halted with the start of the financial crisis.[2] The completion of the structure was uncertain until the government decided in 2008 to fully fund the rest of the construction costs for the half-built concert hall. For several years it was the only construction project in existence in Iceland.[2] The building was given its name on the Day of Icelandic Music on 11 December 2009, prior to which it was called Reykjavík Concert Hall and Conference Centre (Icelandic: Tónlistar- og ráðstefnuhúsið í Reykjavík). The building is the first purpose-built concert hall in Reykjavík and it was developed in consultation with artistic advisor Vladimir Ashkenazy and international consultant Jasper Parrott of HarrisonParrott.[8] It houses the Iceland Symphony Orchestra and the offices of The Icelandic Opera.

The Musician (1970) by Ólöf Pálsdóttir

In the opening concert on 4 May 2011, Iceland Symphony Orchestra performed under the baton of Vladimir Ashkenazy with the Icelandic pianist Víkingur Ólafsson as soloist.[9] The concert was broadcast live on RÚV, the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service.[10] In the water next to Harpa is located the sculpture The Musician (1970) by the Icelandic sculptor Ólöf Pálsdóttir. The statue is of a cellist playing, and is modelled on the Danish cellist Erling Blöndal Bengtsson, who played constantly for Ólöf as he sat for her.[11] When the Orchestra was based at its previous home at the Háskólabíó, the statue was located on Hagatorg, but it followed the Orchestra in 2014.[12]

The Icelandic Opera performs at the concert hall even though the venue is primarily designed for concerts, lacking a curtain, proscenium, and any of the traditional stage machinery.[13] The first director of Harpa was Halldór Guðmundsson.[14] The current director of Harpa is Svanhildur Konráðsdótir. Harpa is operated by Portus, a company owned by the Icelandic government and the City of Reykjavík.

In 2013, the building won the European Union's Mies van der Rohe award for contemporary architecture.[2] In 2017, the venue held the annual World Yo-Yo Contest, where over a thousand contestants from over 30 countries competed for the six champion titles. It was only the second time ever the contest was held in Europe.[15]

The glass façade of the building consists of 714 LED lights, 486 in the eastern part of the building and 228 in the western part.[16] These lights display a video work designed by Olafur Eliasson. In 2021 for the building's 10 year anniversary, Eliasson made 12 new light works to exhibit on the glass, one to be exhibited for each month of the year.[17] In 2014 Eliasson first granted other artists access to the building's advanced lighting system, when artists Atli Bollason and Owen Hindley exhibited the interactive art piece PONG, based on the classic arcade game Pong, for the city's Culture Night (Menningarnótt). This was the first time the façade was set to other uses than playing videos, and PONG was shown again the following year as a part of the Sónar Reykjavík festival. This marked the beginning of wider use of the light façade, as Harpa, Studio Ólafur Elíasson and the City of Reykjavík started having open applications for artistic proposals to utilize the façade the following year, and the winners got help with implementation from digital artist Owen Hindley.[18]

Appearances in popular culture edit

In its unfinished state, Harpa (under the earlier name Tónlistarhús) appears in Gæska: Skáldsaga by Eiríkur Örn Norðdahl, where it is temporarily turned into a mosque with the addition of a minaret.[citation needed]

It was the setting of an episode of the Netflix series Sense8.[19]

It appeared in the Netflix series Black Mirror on the episode "Crocodile".[19]

It is the site of the "rose ceremony from hell" in season 26 of The Bachelor from 2022.[20]

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ MacKin, Laurence. "Iceland opens stunning new arts centre in the teeth of a recession". The Irish Times. Retrieved 14 December 2011.
  2. ^ a b c d "Harpa in Reykjavik: Iceland's symbol of recovery". Nordiclabourjournal.org. 17 June 2014. Retrieved 25 March 2015.
  3. ^ Gibberd, Matt; Hill, Albert (20 August 2013). "The Return of Ornamentation". The Daily Telegraph. London. Archived from the original on 18 October 2014. Retrieved 12 October 2015.
  4. ^ "Harpa Concert and Conference Centre Reykjavik by Henning Larsen Architects". de zeen magazine. 29 August 2011. Retrieved 7 November 2015.
  5. ^ "Austurhöfn tekur á sig mynd". www.vb.is. Retrieved 7 December 2022.
  6. ^ 'Opna lúxushótel við Hörpu 2018', Viðskiptablaðið (14 April 2015).
  7. ^ "Luxury Hotel Expects Busy Summer". Iceland Monitor. Retrieved 7 December 2022.
  8. ^ http://art4logic.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/harpa-conference-center-opera-in.html[better source needed]
  9. ^ McManus, David. "Harpa: Reykjavik Building, Iceland". e-architect.co.uk. Retrieved 11 November 2016.
  10. ^ "Press Release: Harpa Reykjavik Concert Hall and Conference Centre Official Opening on 4 May 2011" (PDF). Morgunblaðið. Retrieved 11 November 2016.
  11. ^ "The Reykjavík Grapevine: The Statue Walk Around Reykjavík". Retrieved 19 December 2020.
  12. ^ "Statue of cellist Erling Blöndal Bengtsson to be moved to Harpa". Iceland Magazine. 14 April 2014. Retrieved 19 December 2020.
  13. ^ Shirley, Hugo (19 March 2012). "La bohème, Icelandic Opera, Reykjavik, review". The Daily Telegraph. London. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 18 January 2018.
  14. ^ "Harpa Official Website – Staff". www.harpa.is. Retrieved 11 November 2016.[dead link]
  15. ^ "International Yo-Yo Federation". iyyf.org. Retrieved 4 November 2022.
  16. ^ "Samkeppni um listaverk á ljóshjúp Hörpu | Reykjavik". reykjavik.is (in Icelandic). 8 December 2015. Retrieved 10 November 2023.
  17. ^ "Don´t miss the show on the glass facade". www.harpa.is (in Icelandic). Retrieved 10 November 2023.
  18. ^ "Harpa turns into a giant canvas". Iceland Monitor. Retrieved 10 November 2023.
  19. ^ a b Moerland, Mariska (11 August 2021). "All the Ins and Outs of Harpa Concert Hall & Conference Centre". What's On in Reykjavík. Retrieved 13 January 2024.
  20. ^ "'The Bachelor' Being Filmed in Iceland". Iceland Monitor. 19 November 2021. Retrieved 22 January 2024.

External links edit