Glass is centre stage
REYKJAVIK (IS) - The new Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Centre in Reykjavik is such a kaleidoscope of ideas, images and influences that it is difficult to know where to begin, what to think and where to look.
Without doubt, this is a glazier's masterpiece. Glass has been used not only to flood the building with daylight, but to highlight the structural design, provide thermal insulation and enhance the decorative elements. The design provides an organic image of glass as though through a microscope that is strongly focused on the surrounding volcanic crystallized basalt columns and glaciers of the Icelandic landscape.
Designed by Henning Larsen Architects, in collaboration with artists Olafur Eliasson and Einar Thorsteinn, the facade of the building is based on geometric principles in which the influence of Frei Otto and Buckminster Fuller are clearly visible.
The south facade is made up of nearly a thousand twelve-sided, three-dimensional 'quasi-bricks'. These geometric forms mutate seamlessly into two-dimensional sectional representations on the other facades and inside ceiling. In the interior, the stacking of cell-like and crystal-like structures continues with the flying staircase, platforms and various levels. Reflective surfaces, shadows and colours against the backdrop of the heavy, black internal structure and dark floors connecting inside and out, make the whole interior resemble a giant natural rock formation deep within the Earth's crust. The red-lacquered birch veneer covering all vertical surfaces in the concert hall provides the building with its molten core.
Since the architects were chosen in 2005, much has changed in Iceland, and the building is more a symbol of defiance than success. Fittingly, however, as both a concert hall and as an object of national pride, the building takes one on a journey through another world, reminiscent of scenes in the Icelandic sagas. Whether or not this building delivers on the hopes invested in it by the city of Reykjavik and the people of Iceland, at least it provides them with a place to escape. (Isabelle Priest)
Colour, Facade, Glass |