|Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Centre|
Harpa, tónlistar- og ráðstefnuhús
|Type||Concert hall & conference centre|
|Town or city||Reykjavík|
|Current tenants||Iceland Symphony Orchestra|
The Icelandic Opera
The Reykjavík Big Band
|Construction started||12 January 2007|
|Opened||13 May 2011|
|Height||43 metres (141 ft)|
|Floor area||28,000 square metres (300,000 sq ft)|
|Design and construction|
|Architecture firm||Henning Larsen Architects|
|Other designers||Olafur Eliasson, facade design|
Artec Consultants, acoustics design
|Seating capacity||1,600–1,800 (Eldborg, main hall)|
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.
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. 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.
Construction started in 2007 but was halted with the start of the financial crisis. 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. 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. It houses the Iceland Symphony Orchestra and the offices of The Icelandic Opera.
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. The concert was broadcast live on RÚV, the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service. 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. 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.
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. The first director of Harpa was Halldór Guðmundsson. 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. 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.
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. 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. 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.
Appearances in popular culture
It is the site of the "rose ceremony from hell" in Clayton's season of The Bachelor from 2022.
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- "Austurhöfn tekur á sig mynd". www.vb.is. Retrieved 7 December 2022.
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- http://art4logic.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/harpa-conference-center-opera-in.html[better source needed]
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- "Press Release: Harpa Reykjavik Concert Hall and Conference Centre Official Opening on 4 May 2011" (PDF). Morgunblaðið. Retrieved 11 November 2016.
- "The Reykjavík Grapevine: The Statue Walk Around Reykjavík". Retrieved 19 December 2020.
- "Statue of cellist Erling Blöndal Bengtsson to be moved to Harpa". Iceland Magazine. 14 April 2014. Retrieved 19 December 2020.
- Shirley, Hugo (19 March 2012). "La bohème, Icelandic Opera, Reykjavik, review". The Daily Telegraph. London. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 18 January 2018.
- "Harpa Official Website – Staff". www.harpa.is. Retrieved 11 November 2016.[dead link]
- "International Yo-Yo Federation". iyyf.org. Retrieved 4 November 2022.
- "Samkeppni um listaverk á ljóshjúp Hörpu | Reykjavik". reykjavik.is (in Icelandic). 8 December 2015. Retrieved 10 November 2023.
- "Don´t miss the show on the glass facade". www.harpa.is (in Icelandic). Retrieved 10 November 2023.
- "Harpa turns into a giant canvas". Iceland Monitor. Retrieved 10 November 2023.