Harpa Concert Hall / by JC Buck


Harpa lives up to the classic saying, "if you build it, they will come." The beautiful geometric glass and steel structure, designed by Olafur Eliasson, Henning Larsen Architects and Batteríio Architects, almost never happened. Back in the global financial crisis of 2008, the entire multi complex development plan collapsed. The building sat half finished and according locals, there were proposals to turn the shell of a building into a national monument representing the economic crash.

Thankfully, the government decided to fund the completion of the hall and the people of Iceland together worked their way out of the Great Recession. For a few years following, it was the only active construction site in all of Iceland. Today, Iceland's economy is booming and Harpa, inspired by Iceland's beautiful landscape of fire, ice and water literally reflects everything that is wonderful about Iceland.  


Like most who visit Iceland, we were there to explore the country's unique landscape; however, I found myself revisiting Harpa every chance I could. I was mesmerized by how the light played with the structure during the day and how the building came to life at night with its bright colors and active light show. I wasn't the only one. Everyone had their phones and cameras out to document their experience with the building. There was even a pretty large group of kids skate boarding in the plaza. They were all trying to impress the camera with their best tricks. Little did they know, it was the building I was photographing!  

My most memorable and magical moment was the chance to take in one of the slowest and most beautiful sunsets of my life reflect on Harpa's glass façade. As someone from MN with a love for sailing, the marina in the foreground with Harpa's dramatic display of an Icelandic sunset was truly a special moment.

- JC