Reykjavik's first purpose-built concert hall has a geometrically complex steel and glass facade whose crystalline form was inspired by local basalt formations
Situated on the waterfront, the concert hall stands out as a radiant sculpture reflecting the sky and harbour space, as well as the vibrant life of the city. The 28,000 m² building features a 1,800 seat concert hall, a 750 seat rehearsal room for Iceland's Philharmonics, a conference hall big enough to welcome 1,000 delegates, as well as various exhibition spaces, restaurants, backstage and administrative facilities.
The spectacular façade was designed in close collaboration between Henning Larsen Architects, the Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson, and Ramboll. The key engineering challenge was to marry the aesthetic ambition - which envisioned the unique glass and steel façade as an expressive sculptural form - with the need to deliver a high performance building envelope, meeting strict requirements for structural capacity, thermal insulation, solar shading, acoustics, moisture management, durability and cleaning access. Close dialogue between the architect, artist, engineer and contractor helped deliver a result that satisfied all requirements.
The south façade is made of glass and steel in a twelve-sided geometric modular system called the 'quasi-brick' - more than 1,000 quasi-bricks are used. The roof and the remaining façades are constructed in sectional representations of this geometric system, resulting in two-dimensional façades of five- and six-sided structural frames. A major challenge was to design the modular structure in a way never seen before. The façade's vertical span exceeds 30m and the lateral wind loads are very strong. Due to the artist's vision, the structure is highly unconventional - not a beam, not a truss, not a grid, not a vierendeel beam but a combination of all. The structural analysis was conducted using the most sophisticated software available, allowing the whole steel structure to be designed as solid components.
In order to achieve a fully coordinated design and ensure all geometric interfaces were well managed, all disciplines were designed in one 3D model, which resulted in what was, at the time, arguably the largest 3D model ever developed for a building.
Today, the concert hall is a major tourist attraction, welcoming more than three million visitors annually: many of whom travel to Reykjavik especially to see it. It was hailed ‘Building of the Year in Scandinavia,' by FORM magazine, and ‘Best Performance Space of 2012,' by American Travel and Leisure Magazine, and it won the 2012 Civic Trust Award in the International Category.
The Reykjavik Concert Hall and Conference Centre was inaugurated in 2011.