Reykjavik’s contemporary architecture

harpa concert hall

harpa concert hall

harpa concert hall

harpa concert hall  harpa concert hall

harpa concert hall

Harpa concert and conference centre


This is my last entry on the architecture in Reykjavik, which focuses on the contemporary buildings in the city.

The most distinguished contemporary building in Reykjavik has to be the Harpa Concert and Conference Centre, opened in 2011. Designed by Danish architecture studio Henning Larsen Architects and Icelandic studio Batteriid Architects, in collaboration with Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson, the prodigious structure is located by the eastern harbour near the city centre.

Inspired by Icelandic crystallised basalt columns, the design enables daylight to penetrate the faceted glass and create kaleidoscopic reflections of the surrounding harbour and sky. The geometric shaped glass windows remind me of the geometric patterns often found in Arabic architecture. The use of light, colour and shadow makes this building utterly fascinating, and watching sunset from the ground floor cafe through the windows was a mesmersising experience. The concert hall has received numerous awards and prizes since its opening, and deservedly so, because it is a stunning and impressive multi-functional building. I only wish that London would one day have its own world-class concert hall like this one.


reykjavik city hall

reykjavik city hall

city hall reykjavik  reykjavik city hall

reykjavik city hall

reykjavik city hall

Reykjavík City Hall (Ráðhús Reykjavíkur)


While I was walking around the city centre one morning, I stumbled across a postmodern concrete building by Lake Tjörnin. It was only later that I found out this bold and atypical building is the Reykjavík City Hall. Opened in 1992, the building was designed by Icelandic architecture practice Studio Granda (the team behind the Reykjavik art museum) after winning the competition for this project. The building reminds me of the architecture designed by renowned Japanese architect Tadao Ando, perhaps it is the use of concrete and water-surrounding location, which can often be seen in Ando‘s designs.


maritme museum reykjavik

Reykjavik Maritime museum opened in 2005, and it is located by the old harbour in a renovated 1947 building that was originally built as a fish freezing plant.


Skálinn, annex to the Icelandic Parliament house

Skálinn, the annex connected to the 19th century Icelandic Parliament house was designed by Batteriid Architects in 2002.



Named after the volcano Askja, Askja is a building on the campus of the University of Iceland. It was designed by architect Maggi Jónsson in 1994, but it only completed in 2001 due to lack of funding.


Japan embassy reykjavik

Japan embassy reykjavik  reykjavik

hilton hotel reykjavik

First & 2nd rows: The Embassy of Japan; Bottom row: the glass facade of Hilton Nordica hotel was originally built in 1965 and renovated in 2008


blue lagoon spa

blue lagoon

The multi-award winning Blue Lagoon spa was designed and built in stages by Icelandic architecture firm VA Architects from 1998-2007.


Keflavik International Airport

Keflavik International Airport  Keflavik International Airport

Another multi award-winning building is the Keflavik International Airport Terminal designed by Andersen & Sigurdsson Architects in 2000. It is bright, spacious, and it even has a children’s play area, which is rare to see at major international airports


Hringbraut bridge

Hringbraut bridge

It is rare to see beautiful footbridges in big cities, but the circular stainless steel Hringbraut bridge designed by Studio Granda in 2009 is one of the most impressive bridges I have come across. It also offers a panoramic view of the surrounding area.


Reykjavík petrol station

A futuristic looking petrol station in the city centre


reykjavik architecture

Reykjavík architecture

Reykjavík modernist architecture

Contemporary housing in the city


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