Our World

The Harpa

Travel & Experiences

Reykjavik, Iceland

In 2016, I visited Iceland for the first time. Not knowing anyone who had travelled there before, I didn’t exactly know what to expect. I enjoy hiking so I knew I’d be able to check that activity off my list everyday if I wanted to but didn’t know a lot about the capital city of Reykjavik where I’d be staying for the week. As soon as I checked into my hotel, I was out the door ready to explore the city. I made my way towards the harbour and was awe struck when I saw the Harpa Concert Hall.

Designed by Henning Larsen Architects and Danish-Icelandic artist, Olafur Eliasson, it is reminiscent of the basalt landscape of Iceland. On my first visit, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky and the glass exterior of the Harpa sparkled in the sunlight. As I made my way around the outside of the building, I took in all the beautiful shapes and blue and green coloured glass. Making my way inside was a different experience. The basalt column effect was much more apparent and so were the hints of pale yellow and orange glass. The ceiling was made up of faceted hexagonal mirror which abstractly reflected both the interior glass and exterior setting. As I walked around and through the Harpa, my experience changed from one angle to another - the light was filtered differently; the exterior reflections changed.

For me, the most interesting aspect of this building was the juxtaposition of the modern shape and design against the rugged exterior in the background. Even if the building is not to your taste, you can’t help but explore it because it feels so strangely out of place, and yet reflects its surroundings so beautifully. The Harpa was one of many beautiful and interesting finds in Iceland.