If there wasn’t the financial crisis of 2008, Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Centre in Reykjavik would have looked a little different. Due to financial problems, the completion of its construction remained in question for some time. Fortunately, in the same year 2008, the Iceland government decided to finance the project, but they had to save on details, and in 2011 the number of attractions of the great country has replenished. The Harpa Concert Hall is definitely worth all the spend on its building money, because the architecture still delights the tourists. It is as amazing as Iceland and its nature.
At the beginning of their career Icelandic Symphony Orchestra originally had not a place for regular repetitions and performances. There was no concert hall in Reykjavik. In addition, during the Iceland financial uncertainty in the early 21st century, the country had to change something, find the way that “bring it to life”.
As a result, a project covering the big part of the southern Reykjavik coast was developed. The revival of the port involved the construction of a huge concert hall, a five-star hotel, a shops, apartments and many other things. The work on a project was made by the two companies: Danish Henning Larsen Architects and the Icelandic Batteríið Architects. Artec Consultants from the US had already engaged in acoustical engineering in the construction industry. And Icelandic Batteríið Architects was responsible for enlarging the Icelandic Parliament building in Reykjavik. Therefore, there was no doubt about the choice of these two companies.
Olafur Eliasson designed an amazing Harpa Concert Hall facade. The project was based on using natural materials available in Iceland. The walls of the Harpa Concert Hall are made of Icelandic concrete, painted with volcanic ash. The first floor was made of stone from Blafjoll (Blue mountains), wood to one of the concert halls were processed in Husavik in Northern Iceland.
In the port there were not enough place, so the part of the Harpa Concert Hall building was rendered on the territory of the Atlantic Ocean. The architecture contains elements resembling basalt columns, ice crystals and honeycombs.
The Harpa Hall in Reykjavik fits perfectly into the surrounding landscape. It merges with the water, reflecting it, as well as reflecting the sky and the Þúfa on the other side of the fjord. In summer, the bright sun is reflected on the facade, and in winter there is flicker led lights that draw attention of every passer-by.
What does the word “Harpa” mean?
“Harpa” in Icelandic is an elegant female name.
However, there is another meaning of the “harpa”. This makes sense, because some people see the shape of the music instrument in the form of the building.
In addition, in the Scandinavian calendar the word “Harpa” names the first month of summer. This means the beginning of light time, means that Icelan people are managed to live through the winter, the days are longer, nature is awakening to life.
When the competition for the building name was announced, one condition was established: the word must be in Icelandic, but which can be easily pronounced by foreigners. 1200 Icelanders sent 4156 proposals. And on December 11, 2009, the word “Harpa” was chosen.
The four halls
The Harpa Concert Hall interior of was designed so that every square meter of it can be rented. It means literally. You can rent the entire 28,000 sq m or just a small corner in the hallway.
Another important feature of Harpa Concert Hall is excellent sound insulation. Concerts can be held in all the four halls at the same time. With the wall separating the halls from each other an opera and a rock concert can be performed.
Bright concert hall for 1600 people has the height of 19 m, stage 22 x 17 m, excellent acoustics. Eldborg is also a beautiful volcano name on the Peninsula Snaefellsnes. Therefore, the hall is decorated in black and red colors, which symbolize the eruption of the volcano.
The hall is made to accomomndate 520 people. Norðurljós in Icelandic literally means “Northern lights”. The design corresponds to the name, it is decorated with special wood that spreads vibrations. In addition, the lighting of different colors resembles the Northern lights in the sky.
The hall can accommodate up to 840 people. It got its name from the name of a rare Icelandic crystal used for the polarization the light.
It is the smallest hall, which can accommodate only 195, but this is enough for Iceland population of 338 thousand people and Reykjavik 122 thousand peple.
Harpa in Reykjavik – best time to go
In winter, you can usually freely go through the corridors and floors of the building, but of course the halls are closed. But that’s no reason to neglect visiting Harpa Concert Hall this season. Perhaps someone even seems that in winter the building is the most beautiful – bright “dancing” lights illuminate the darkness and create an impressive General view of the facade.
In summer, access to the stairs and corridors of Harpa Concert Hall is limited, and you cannot just walk there. This is due to the fact that paid events are held in the corridors, and concert halls are opened.
So summer is a good time to go on a tour in Harpa Concert Hall. Usually these tours take about 30 minutes, tickets can be purchased online, and this way it takes less money than at the box office situated on the first floor.
During the tour you will visit 3 halls. After it, you can walk through the corridors and see other interesting things in the Concert Hall.