Play of colors with glass thanks to SCHOTT NARIMA®        

Harpa Concert Hall & Conference Centre, Reykjavik, Iceland



The impressive Reykjavik Concert Hall and Conference Centre Harpa reflects the nature of this volcanic island. Its multifaceted glass façade corresponds with the sounds of the sea, city, and sky.

The impressive new Concert and Congress Centre Harpa fits in just perfectly with the Icelandic capital of Reykjavik’s harbor area. It consists of four halls, whose names allude to the forces of nature: earth, fire, water and light.

The 28,000 square meter building is the result of a unique collaboration between the well-known artist Olafur Eliasson and Henning Larsen Architects, Copenhagen. Eliasson, who lives and works in Berlin, designed the glassy façade that faces south. He was inspired here by the nature of Iceland and crystallized basalt columns, in particular.

At first glance, the glass front that faces the center of the city appears to be a flat surface, but really isn’t. It follows its own geometric principle instead. To achieve this, the artist arranged about 960 three-dimensional hexagonal bricks in such a way that the ­façade sticks out on the outside in a zigzag. His colleague, ­ Einar Thorsteinn, created the unusual geometry of the glass blocks.
The glass façades of the HARPA concert hall in Reykjavik with their kaleidoscope-like reflections thanks to SCHOTT NARIMA®
The glass façades of the HARPA Concert Hall in Reykjavik with their kaleidoscope-like reflections thanks to SCHOTT NARIMA®


The main idea behind light and transparency is also reflected in his choice of glass. Some of the glass blocks were designed using SCHOTT NARIMA® color effect glass that reflects the changing light conditions during the day. The façade as a kaleidoscope of colors – made possible by the optical interference layers of this dichroic color effect glass. The colors vary depending on the incident solar radiation and viewing angle. The spectrum ranges from the warm golden colors of glowing lava to the ice blue glaciers of winter. And at night, the façade glows in red, green and blue, thanks to how the glass blocks are illuminated by LEDs that can be controlled individually.

Besides color effect glass, Eliasson also used more than 1,000 additional, rather unique five- and six-sided glass elements, including the optical interference anti-reflective glass AMIRAN® from SCHOTT supplied in the form of a laminated glass. They achieve higher transparency because, wherever the anti-reflective glasses were used, the viewer is able to see inside the building without being bothered by any disturbing reflections.

The static building ‘dematerializes’ and Harpa enters into a dialogue with its surrounding environment. This makes the impressive monolith located in the small and rather tranquil city of Reykjavik look somewhat airy and aesthetic.