The most impressive piece of modern architecture in Iceland, Harpa is a beautifully designed concert hall on Rekjavik’s waterfront. It was rescued by the Icelandic government and City of Reykjavik in 2008, after the financial crisis led to the original private developers pulling out.
The building is full of references to Iceland’s nature, including the basalt rock like exterior shell, the lava like interior of the foyer, and lava and Northern Lights themed concert halls. The exterior is a free standing box of steel and thousands of glass panels, 5% of which are coloured, and all of them can be colour controlled through embedded LED lights. The foyer area is open to the full height of the building, and extends out to the waterfont. The main concert hall is lava red, something of a surprise when I opened the door, but perfectly apt for an Icelandic concert hall. Beside the hall are echo chambers that help ensure a consistent sound quality throughout the hall, and allow for some special musical moments, when far off sounds are required.This Northern Lights inspired concert hall was also rather wonderful. Next door, in the middle of the city, is a rather large hole in the ground that has been there for nearly a decade. It will be the home of a long promised five star hotel, which aided by the tourism boom, is now planned to be completed in the next couple of years.