Harpa wins the 2013 Mies van der Rohe award
Harpa – Reykjavík Concert Hall and Conference Centre wins the 2013 Mies van der Rohe award, the European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture. One of the most prestigious awards for contemporary architecture, the prize is granted every two years to recognise quality European architectural production. The candidates for the award, which included 335 works from 37 European countries, were nominated by various independent European architecture experts and members of European architecture associations. This year’s winner was selected by an international jury. Designed by Danish/Icelandic artist Ólafur Elíasson in collaboration with Henning Larsen Architects and Batteríið Architects, the concert hall is situated in Reykjavík’s eastern harbour, at the intersection of land and sea. Responding to the surrounding landscape, Harpa is an expressive structure that converses with the vibrant city lights and the ever-changing sky and ocean. The geometric structure of the building’s facade is composed of stackable twelve-sided glass units that evoke crystallised basalt columns. Sunlight dances on the surface of the concert hall’s clear and colour-tinted surface, and, in the darkness, coloured lights gracefully play on the building. Mirroring the dynamism of Icelandic weather, the play of light on Harpa’s expressive facade is unpredictable and susceptible to sudden change. Diffusing reflections of the sky and sea, the building’s facade creates a spectacle of shimmering colour and light which reminds us of the effect of weather and sunlight on our perception of the building and evokes the magnificent glow of the Aurora Borealis.
Having been awarded the 2013 Mies van der Rohe Award, Ólafur Elíasson says: “Harpa stands out as a very special project to me. My studio and I were involved in close collaboration with Henning Larsen Architects already at an early design stage, which led to a merger of architecture and art into a unique result. Harpa was developed at a time of turbulent economic and political change in Iceland, so that we were faced with great challenges, which made the building a very personal project for everyone involved. I am therefore very pleased, grateful and touched that Harpa has been awarded the Mies van der Rohe Award 2013. It reminds me of the incredible process that made Harpa into a work of art.”1 Since its inauguration in 2011, Harpa has welcomed almost 2 million people. Emblematic of Iceland’s resilience and perseverance during uncertain times, Harpa is affected by the changing surrounding atmosphere but nevertheless, stands tall in Reykjavík’s harbour, like a powerful coastal rock formation.
Images: courtesy of Harpa-Reykjavík Concert Hall and Conference Centre