A Walk through Reykjavik (part 3)

Mirrors and reflections abound in Harpa

In this conclusion of this 3-part post (cf. part 1 and part 2), we visit one of the most interesting architectural constructs in Vesturbær: Harpa.

Harpa is a concert hall and conference center. Its construction started in 2007 as part of the redevelopment of the Austurhöfn area; due to the financial crisis work was put on hold until the Icelandic government decided to fund the rest of the costs to finish the half-built concert hall in 2008.

Harpa reflects the Harbor

Positioned on the harbor and facing the Atlantic Ocean, Harpa is built as a steel frame that is clad with glass of various colors to give a sense of the basalt landscape of Iceland.

Harpa Facade

The facade is intriguing, as it allows one to look through parts of the hall, and invites the viewer to look for reflections and color patterns; there’s even a particular pane that is appreciated by selfie takers for its reflection of the views!

The facade and overall structure are very appealing, but there’s one feature that really caught my attention: the ceiling!

Harpa Ceiling View

The ceiling had a wonderful pattern of mirrors, lights and angles that are just wondrous to behold. Every turn of the head gives the eyes another set of inputs that intrigue and amazement to entertain the brain!

One literally could spend hours exploring the reflections in the ceiling and the patterns that appear; while not spending that much time, I did take a good number of photographs. Here’s another view:

Q*bert in Harpa

If you are familiar with the Q*bert game of the 1980s, you may also see the geometry that was the hallmark of that game’s 3-dimensional look and feel. The ceiling provides countless views like these, as we keep our eyes open and minds receptive to the varied views.

I look forward to the possibility of one day experiencing a concert in this wonderful space and having more time to explore all its views and angles.

A Walk through Reykjavik (part 2)

More impressions from walking through Vesturbær

In this second installment (cf. part 1) of our walk around one of the neighborhoods in Reykjavik, I’d like to share a couple of impressions of the mixture of architecture in the small area that we explored. The area where we wandered around is the Old West Side, Vesturbær.

This section is the earliest area of Reykjavik to be settled, starting around 1800. When walking through the area, one of the things that stands out is that the older structures are slowly being surrounded by newer architecture that rises up around these houses and looms over them.

Hlíðarhús

Hlíðarhús (sign on the structure) were small farms in the Reykjavik area, which stood near the current Vesturbær; Vesturbær used to take its name from them, when it was called Hlíðarhústastigur. This particular house stands surrounded by concrete edifices, and an inspiring mural art work.

The Vesturbær area is definitely upscale, and sought-after in the real estate market. There are several foreign missions sprinkled across the neighborhood, which still has its regular feel as well.

Bicycle Storage

With real estate at a premium, space utilization should be optimized. The people that live here understand how to do that, as a balcony is a good spot to put the bicycle.

The overall layout of Vesturbær is somewhat haphazard, as the turn of the 20th century didn’t include a lot of city planning, as Reykjavik was expanding. It does make for a cozy neighborhood feeling, as houses might be tucked in great spots and you get to know your neighbors!

Modern life in Vesturbær

This more modern-looking house had found a perfect spot in the Vesturbær neighborhood. Even here it is evident that much thought was given to how to best fit in the space afforded.

As we walked up and down streets throughout the area, I couldn’t help but get a sense of the old town charm that exists here.

Vesturbær street view

It’s amazing to think that streets like this one are a mere 5 minutes’ walk away from hyper-modern structures, such as the Harpa Concert Hall and Meeting Space…

More about that in the next installment!

A Walk through Reykjavik (part 1)

A brief walk through part of Reykjavik and impressions gathered.

Traveling across Iceland provides a wonderful opportunity to capture its great variety of landscape, which definitely is the star of any photography tour.

Despite all this wonder, it’s worthwhile to take a walk through Reykjavik, as it features great architecture, inspiring art and a connection to its history. On the final day of the photography trip, we took such a walk.

One of the locations that stood out for me is the Hólavallagarður cemetery. It is rather different from many other graveyards in both its layout and its landscaping…

Hólavallagarður Cemetery

As you can see in this image, there are many trees planted, which gives the light a filtered quality that lends a sense of mystery to the graveyard. Walking through the cemetery, one gets a sense of the overall mood and can’t help but feel a connection with the people who lived (and died) here.

Hólavallagarður cemetery was established in 1838, and, as such, is the new graveyard, replacing one that had been used since Viking times. Some of the headstones have been sculpted by well-known Icelandic artists, such as Einar Jónsson.

Lighting the Way for the Soul

Many details can be seen in the graveyard, such as lanterns and other small objects, which one can imagine were placed to assist the souls of the departed along their continuing journey. This graveyard has the feel of connecting one to past generations through its intimate details; it’s a great place for a quiet visit.

Walking along the streets of Reykjavik, one also finds a connection with modern life…

Street Art by Deih

This mural is done by the Spanish artist Deih, and brings a very strong sense of comic book art and wonder about the nature of the character. It’s stunning and intriguing!

In another post, I will spend some time to feature some of the architecture, including Harpa!

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