(Note: You can CLICK on each image to view it in Lightbox Mode for the best detail.)
Hi everyone. On a recent trip to Iceland, I was able to spend a few days in Reykjavik, and used the opportunity to photograph the Harpa. The Harpa is Iceland's performing arts center and is located by the old harbor between Reykjavík city center and the North Atlantic. The design was influenced by Iceland‘s exceptional and dramatic nature. The building was designed by Henning Architects and the glass facade was designed by renowned visual artist Olafur Eliasson. Situated on the boundary between land and sea, the building's multi-faceted glass facade reflects the many colors from the Icelandic sky. In the winter the building is internally lit and provides a beacon of light during the darkest time of year.
During my summertime visit there was no night so my visit to the famed building was during the day and early evening. I was not sure I would be allowed to photograph inside the building but on arrival discovered that I could take a tour that allowed access to the upper floors, and in addition, after the completion of the tour, gave me several hours to walk around and compose shots. The 1500 KR cost, roughly $15,00, is an excellent deal if you want the opportunity to create some unique images of the building. I was also allowed to use my tripod.
I kept my camera kit pretty simple for this shoot and carried my Fuji XT-2 and my one go to architectural lens; the Fujinon XF10-24mm f4 R OIS. With a 35mm equivalent of 15mm to 36mm, this is THE perfect lens for an architectural shoot. The building is fairly tight in some locations and at the wide end of 15mm I was able to capture the soaring nature of the building as well as the merging of transparent windows into a faceted metal ceiling. During the tour I learned that the building is essentially a core of black concrete surrounded by a varied widow glazing system, the south side of which is a hexagonal structure with inset glass panels. The black core represents the volcanic rock while the hexagonal facade is reminiscent of basaltic rock. One of the biggest surprises is the multi-level concert hall, located within the walls of the black core, which glows an intense red as if being inside a volcano.
Light is ever at play in this building. It is variable though and dependent on the weather outside. The weather varied during my visit here, ranging from cloudy and overcast, to moments where the sun found brief holes in the clouds. It was these moments of sunlight, aided by the angular facets of the window wall, where I saw the light bring the Harpa to life. What was at one moment just shadow became an intense series of patterns that spread throughout all of the internal surfaces. Here it became a cacophony of light merging transparent glass walls, reflected ceilings, and solid forms. The whole of the buildings nature was revealed. It was almost disconcerting to walk along some of the narrow corridors as the reflected patterns streamed across the floors and walls.
Aside from the main core of the building and the floor, not much else is completely straight. Walkways overlap at angles, stairways are cantilevered off the walkways, the window wall leans outward as it angles away from the floor, and the multi-faceted ceiling, suspended overhead, seemingly reflects all of these forms. There are two window walls on the main facade, the hexagonal, structural glazing system, and a seemingly one dimensional system, that contrast each other. This is evident in the soaring space in the upper lobby where the windows meet with the suspended ceiling. Here the play of light can be intense and on several occasions our group was bathed in a continuous glow as the atrium lit up from the sun.
The world is also seemingly revealed in many forms when viewed from within the glass walls. It is somewhat like a kaleidoscope when viewing the walls as a single unit. But each pane of glass offers its own view of the world depending on your position when looking through the glass.
It was a joy to spend time in this building. As an architect I certainly appreciated it for its form and function. But more than that it was a delight to experience its shape, its angles, that amazing glass wall, and the way light played with the senses. If you have occasion to visit Reykjavik I would highly recommend visiting the Harpa.
Thanks for stopping by. RHC