Harpa – Henning Larsen Architects / Olafur Eliasson

Harpa - mark halpin - surface and surfaceHarpa is the new opera house of Reykjavik, visible from the coast and throughout the city. It’s a large prism, reflecting the changing skies and harbor. The project was nearly halted during the Icelandic economic crisis but thankfully due to the government’s appreciation of the arts as an integral part of life in Iceland the project was fully funded to completion.

Designed by Henning Larsen Architects in collaboration with Danish Artist Olafur Eliasson on facade duty with Sebastian Behmann, Harpa was completed last year. The building’s south facade of over 1,000 ‘quasi bricks’ influenced by the local basalt geometric columns create a kaleidoscopic layer constantly changing the internal light of the building. This crystalline veil is beautifully contrasted by the monolithic anthracite poured concreted of the music halls.

“The building’s name Harpa refers to the musical instrument, the harp. It is also the name of the first month of spring in the Nordic calendar – and for the people of Iceland this means the promise of better times.” Steinunn Birna Ragnarsdóttir (Musical Director of Harpa)

I got a chance to see John Grant play here on Saturday where he started his tour of his fantastic second album ‘Pale Green Ghosts’. First four photos are from me and the rest are from Henning Larsen / Olafur Eliasson.


Harpa - mark halpin - surface and surfaceHarpa - mark halpin - surface and surfaceHarpa - mark halpin - surface and surface 03Harpa - Henning Larsen - Olafur Eliasson - surface and surfaceHarpa - Olafur Eliasson - surface and surface Harpa - Olafur Eliasson - surface and surface

  1. Lucie said:

    Olafur Eliasson – for me – is one of the most interesting conceptual artists in the contemporary art scene. And I love how he approaches light in art in such different and variable ways. Impressing! Thanks for posting this pictures. I will have to take a trip to Iceland soon…

    • Mark said:

      He’s one of my favorite artist, saw a big exhibition of his in berlin a few years ago, was amazing

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