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Harpa, Reykjavik, Iceland

I have been dubbed "Architect Nerd" by my best friend. Although, I do not think the use of the word Nerd is appropriate, I do appreciate good architecture that provokes thoughts/feelings in those observing or within it. Harpa, is one such example of what I deem good architecture - a building that relates to the site, draws from the surrounding culture, and has that je ne sais quoi that sparks interest.

Harpa is a concert hall and convention center in Reykjavik, Iceland that was completed in 2011 by Henning Larsen Architects and artist Olafur Eliasson. The building is also home to one high end restaurant and a more pedestrian lower level cafe. I was lucky enough to spend several hours in and around this building on a recent trip to Iceland. The building sits right up on the waterfront neighboring the harbor in the center of Reykjavik. From the exterior, the building appears to be composed of various volumes each faced in colored glass. As the lighting and time of day shifts, so too does the exterior color of the building - from almost black, to green, to blue. And of course at night, there is a light show of sorts that further complicates the colored scheme.

The inside of the building is richly layered both with the mix of materials and the multiple levels that cut in and out of the voided space.

If you have ever been to Iceland in March you have experienced the weather changing drastically in a matter of minutes. The faceted glass pieces, the different colors, and the mercurial weather patterns combined to create an ever-changing play of light and shadows while I walked around the space.

All in all, this is one of those places I could spend hours walking around, sitting, reading, thinking, drinking wine, whatever. If you ever happen to be in Reykjavik - be sure to check it out.


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