The architectural award of the European Union went to the building not only for the quality of its architecture, but also for its role as a symbol of hope and revival for the country, one of the first to fall victim to the crisis. When construction stopped due to financial problems, the state decided to intervene and see it through to the end, despite the catastrophic state of the economy. But abandoning the project or postponing it for a long time would mean admitting defeat, and Harpa is an ambitious and even grandiose undertaking for little Iceland.
It is the first real concert hall in the country and the second tallest structure in Reykjavik. Functioning as a congress center, it can host prestigious international congresses and conferences, and as a venue for musical events - touring bands and first-rank performers: the acoustics have already been assessed as very high quality.
Harpa's look is dominated by a remarkable façade made of crystal glass blocks, shimmering with colored light, designed by Olafur Eliasson. The foyer with a cafe and galleries located behind it serves as a full-fledged public space for citizens, where you can spend time in inclement or just cold weather, regardless of visiting the performance. According to the chairman of the jury of the award, Vil Arets, the building expressed a new myth of Iceland and is capable of giving the modern identity of the nation, so far best known for its sagas.
The award for the emerging architect this year went to the temporary complex Nave de Música Matadero in Madrid, built by the Langarita-Navarro Arquitectos for the Red Bull Music Academy music festival in an industrial complex of the early 20th century.
The awards ceremony will take place as usual at the Mies van der Rohe Pavilion in Barcelona on 7 June and will include a celebration of the 25th anniversary of the award. The winners will receive a prize of € 60,000.
The finalists for the biennial award this time were also the Metropol Parasol complex in Seville J. Mayer H. Architects, the Superkilen public space in Copenhagen by the BIG workshop, the residential complex for the elderly in Alcacer do Sal by Aires Mateus Arquitectos and the Market Pavilion in Ghent by Robbrecht en Daem architecten and MJosé Van Hee architects.