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Mies van der Rohe
Harpa wins the European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture

Harpa is the winner of the 2013 European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture – Mies van der Rohe Award, the European Commission and the Mies van der Rohe Foundation announced today.

In the announcement it states:

Harpa's crystalline structure was inspired by Icelandic landscapes and traditions. Its dramatic design captures and reflects the light of the city, ocean and sky to thrilling effect.” Peer Teglgaard Jeppesen, from Henning Larsen Architects: “On behalf of the team I would like to thank the European Commission and the Fundació Mies van der Rohe for this award. We are immensely honoured. Harpa is the result of collaborative process that has involved many people and with their efforts, strong commitment and drive Harpa has become a symbol of Iceland’s renewed dynamism.”


Wiel Arets, Chair of the Jury, said: “Harpa has captured the myth of a nation – Iceland – that has consciously acted in favour of a hybrid-cultural building during the middle of the ongoing Great Recession. The iconic and transparent porous ‘quasi brick’ appears as an ever-changing play of coloured light, promoting a dialogue between the city of Reykjavik and the building’s interior life. By giving an identity to a society long known for its sagas, through an interdisciplinary collaboration between Henning Larsen Architects and artist Olafur Eliasson, this project is an important message to the world and to the Icelandic people, fulfilling their long expected dream.”

The Nave de Música Matadero Madrid (Red Bull Music Academy) was built in only two months to host a nomadic annual music festival in an early 20th-century industrial warehouse complex in Madrid. It responded to the technical and acoustic needs of the event, while promoting and enriching artistic encounters between the participating musicians.

Antoni Vives, President of the Mies van der Rohe Foundation, said: “It has been an honour for the city of Barcelona and the Mies van der Rohe Foundation to grant this Prize with the European Commission for the last 25 years: a quarter of a century of the best European architecture. I would like to congratulate the winners of this 13th edition and I would like encourage architects to continue to play their role as catalysts for transforming cities.”

The winners were chosen from 335 submitted works in 37 European countries. Five works were shortlisted for the main award. The other finalists were: Market Hall (Ghent, Belgium by Robbrecht en Daem architecten; Marie-José Van Hee architecten); Superkilen (Copenhagen, Denmark by BIG Bjarke Ingels Group; Topotek1; Superflex); Home for Elderly People (Alcácer do Sal, Portugal by Aires Mateus Arquitectos) and Metropol Parasol (Seville, Spain by J. Mayer H).

The jury members who selected the finalists for 2013 are: Wiel Arets, Chair of the Jury, Principal, Wiel Arets Architects, Maastricht/Dean, College of Architecture, IIT, Chicago; Pedro Gadanho, Curator, Contemporary Architecture, Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York; Antón García-Abril, Principal, Ensamble Studio; Louisa Hutton, Principal, Sauerbruch Hutton Architects, Berlin; Kent Martinussen, CEO, The Danske Arkitekter Center (DAC), Copenhagen; Frédéric Migayrou, Director, Architecture & Design, Centre Pompidou, Paris; Ewa Porebska, Editor-in-Chief, Architektura-murator, Warsaw; Giovanna Carnevali, Secretary of the Jury, Director, Fundació Mies van der Rohe, Barcelona.

-Gramophone magazine 2010 – Harpa chosen among the 10 best Concert Halls and Inspiring Structures of the Millennium

-Travel+Leisure 2011 – „Best Performance Space“ Design Award

-World Architecture Festival, Barcelona 2011 – shortlisted/nominated as the Best Cultural Building of the World 2011

-Arkitekturmessan in Gothenburg, Sweden – nominated as the Best Nordic Building 2011

-Arkitekturmessan in Gothenburgh , Sweden – Harpa Plaza – the Best Public Nordic Space 2011

-Civic Trust Award in Edinburgh out of more than 300 nominated projects

-Icelandic newspaper DV – The Cultural Award for architecture

-The Icelandic Concrete Award 2012

-The Icelandic Heating, Ventilating and Sanitary Award 2012

-Awarded the Mies van der Rohe Award 2013

-Best Meeting & Conference Centre in Europe 2016

-Local Favorite 2016 Award – The Culture Trip


-Best MICE Centre in Northern Europe 2012 – IIIDAwards 2011

-Best public space – Arkitekturmassan Awards 2012