Tonight marks the opening of a new concert and conference hall in Reykjavík, as of now the official home of the Icelandic Symphony Orchestra and the Icelandic Opera. It has been five years in the making, two and a half good ones and two and half difficult ones as the country had gone semi bankrupt half way through the works. It is not easy to conduct the construction of a 280000 ft2 hall when you have no money and must finance the project by selling bottles for recycling. But where there is a will there is a way.
There are 4 main halls in the building in addition to various meeting rooms and exhibition spaces. The photo shown here above is from the main hall, probably arranged before construction was complete as it is so painfully evident that photoshop or some computer program was used to add the audience to the image. I guess the recycling finance budget did not allow for better graphics. But the real thing is much more impressive, this room seats 1600 people and although it is huge the acoustics are impeccable according to those that attended the sneak peek general practice of the opening concert.
But aside from the glamorous inside what really makes this building something else is the glass artwork facade designed by Ólafur Elíasson, an Icelandic artist renowned worldwide for his large scale installations. The building is beautiful to behold, in particular when the sun is shining and the iridescent surface is awaken and comes out to play. I am 100% certain that if the traffic administration were to gather data regarding accident frequency on the street passing Harpa there will be a marked increase in collisions on the days the sun is out, drivers are sure to be more mesmerized by the electric colors than the bland black pavement in front of their hood.
If you are coming to Iceland anytime soon or even any time later – make sure to check out what is happening at Harpa. Numerous foreign artists are already booked to appear. Pianist Jamie Cullum, tenor Jonas Kaufman, singer Elvis Costello are amongst those expected this summer and surprisingly enough Larry King is also doing a show, albeit his input does not involve not a musical number.
While looking for photographs of Harpa to accompany this text I went onto one of the Icelandic design web sites. There I got sidetracked for a bit as the newest article was about the latest toilet on the market – heralded in the headline as the most cool toilet around. Seeing that I have just installed three new toilets without ever giving it a thought that I should be shooting for cool, I of course took the time to see what I had apparently missed by a hair. I must say that the drug inducing the kind of stupor I would have had to have been in to buy the contraption has yet to be invented.
This toilet appears to have been designed by someone with an attention deficit disorder of the highest magnitude. Sometimes during the initial designing phase he or she got lost, forgot the original intention and the result is a toilet equipped with a remote to control the multiple gadgets and functions installed in this no longer basic item. Seeing is believing. The cost is 6300 USD, I am willing to bet a lot that the producers have a plaque in their boardroom stating: “A fool and his money soon part.”
The integrated bidet function is an accident waiting to happen, if you watch the advertising video you will understand what I am referring to.
And lastly – I should probably get in touch with the company to see if they sell a sink to go with the toilet. You see, if it is still in the designing phase I can suggest a button for the remote: Puke declogger.
Yrsa - Wednesday