A visit to Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Centre

Today I was lucky enough to get a guided tour around Harpa, Reykjavík’s new concert hall and conference centre. This house has been controversial to say the least and was in many ways a symbol of everything that was wrong with Icelandic society leading up to the economic crash in 2008. It’s big, expensive and has all the newest and best technologies in sound engineering and acoustics which – when you think about it – may be a little too much for a population of only 300-something thousand people.

I have to say that I enjoy the fact that we finally have a proper concert hall. The business woman in me also applauds  that we now have our very own conference centre in the heart of Reykjavík because that opens up a whole new market for us. I also happen to think that the building itself is beautiful and that opinion only grew stronger when I visited it today.

Harpa has 3 main music halls: Norðurljós, Silfurberg and Eldborg. They are all very unique and are designed for different purposes.  There is also a big conference room that seats up to 750 people, two meeting rooms that both seat 63 people each and 8 smaller ones. There are also two restaurants: Munnharpan and Kolabrautin. I ate at Munnharpan, it was rather expensive and only half decent but I’m putting that down on it being new and me having a strange taste in food.

I still haven’t been to a show in Harpa so I don’t know about the sound but I’ve heard nothing but good things about it. Harpa’s music calendar is more or less full for the remainder of the year so there is plenty on offer if you want to go and check out the acoustics. It’s also well worth it  to visit just for the visual aspect of it.

Harpa may have been way too expensive but since it’s already been built I’ve decided not to care about that and just enjoy this amazing new Reykjavík landmark.


Some interesting facts and figures

  • Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Centre is 28.000 square meters (258.000 sq ft) in size.
  • The bottom slab is 8.000 square meters.
  • The building is 43 meters tall (141 ft).
  • 30.000 cubic meters of concrete will be cast in the whole building.
  • The whole building site with adjacent building is 60.000 square meters (15 acres)
  • 2.500 tons of construction steel and 4.000 tons of reinforcement bars will be used in the building
  • 200.000 cubic meters of soil were removed from the site before construction began.

Images from my visit

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