Home Do You Know? What inspired the glass façade of this concert hall?

What inspired the glass façade of this concert hall?

This is Harpa concert hall and conference centre located in Reykjavík, Iceland which was opened for public in 2011. 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. Glass façade of Harpa is the special attraction of the project. Do you know what inspired the design of this glass façade?

Harpa means ‘harp’ in Icelandic. It is also the Icelandic name for the first month of spring, and thus a sign of brighter times.

The building was originally part of a redevelopment of the Austurhöfn area dubbed World Trade Center Reykjavík, which was partially abandoned when the 2008 Icelandic financial crisis took hold. 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 facade, created by Henning Larsen in collaboration with Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson, is inspired by the Icelandic scenery. The crystalline shell lets the rich variations of the Nordic daylight dance in the foyer. Harpa’s facades are made up of varieties of the so-called “quasi-brick”, inspired by Iceland’s characteristic basalt rocks. The design is based on a geometrical principle developed in Olafur Eliasson’s studio and executed in both two and three dimensions.

The main idea behind the facade concept has been to rethink the building as a static unit, thus allowing it to respond dynamically to the changing colors of the surroundings. In the daytime, the geometric figures create a crystalline structure which captures and reflects the light and initiates a dialog between the building, city, and natural scenery. At night, the facades are illuminated by LED lights, built into each quasi-brick. The color and light intensity can be adjusted to bring the full-color spectrum into play and create a variety of different patterns, letters, or symbols.

“Harpa unites art and culture – in form and content – and has become Iceland’s greatest icon and public attraction,” says Henning Larsen.

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