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Europe’s new architecture – celebrating talent - 21/05/2013

Harpa - Reykjavik concert hall amp; conference centre in Reykjavik, Iceland © EU

Iceland’s Harpa, a concert hall and conference centre in Reykjavik, wins the 2013 Mies van der Rohe award for contemporary architecture.

The building has helped to transform and revitalise Reykjavik’s harbour, said the judging panel. Harpa was designed by Henning Larsen Architects, Batteríið Architects and Studio Olafur Eliasson.

“Harpa's iconic and transparent porous quasi-brick appears as an ever-changing play of coloured light, promoting a dialogue between the city and the building's interior life,” said the panel’s chair.

The EU’s biennial EU prize for contemporary architecture – also known as the Mies van der Rohe award – celebrates excellence and encourages up-and-coming talent in architecture.

Emerging talent

The jury awarded the prize for emerging architect ‘special mention’ to María Langarita and Víctor Navarro for the Nave de Música Matadero (Red Bull Music Academy) in Madrid, Spain.

The building was built in only 2 months to host a music festival in an early 20th-century warehouse complex. It met the event’s technical needs, while promoting and enriching artistic encounters between the musicians, the panel said.

The awards will be presented at a ceremony on 7 June at the Mies van der Rohe Pavilion in Barcelona.

The winners were chosen from 335 nominations. The other finalists were: Market Hall (Ghent, Belgium); Superkilen (Copenhagen, Denmark); Home for Elderly People (Alcácer do Sal, Portugal) and Metropol Parasol (Seville, Spain).

Any building less than two years old which contributes to city life, from a private home to large-scale infrastructure, can be nominated. 

Architecture directly employs more than half a million people and makes a significant contribution to cultural and creative industries, which account for 4.5% of EU gross domestic product.

The EU Culture Programme – with a total budget of €400m for 2007-13 – supports collaborative projects in the field of architecture and cultural heritage.

More on the EU architecture prize

EU culture programme

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