Jean Nouvel’s competition entry for the Concert and Conference Centre, Reykjavik.

“Here is an island. Remarkable in every way. A northern climate spared neither the cold, nor the wind, nor the rain. A geographical location where the seasons alternate darkness and light. A recent volcanic topography. An ocean. And a light that everyone agrees finds magical. Nothing in the world can be compared to this island, to its jagged and mossy rocks, to its bogs and wild torrents, to the gush of its sulfurous springs; Hekla’s wrath.

Here is a nation rich in ancestral heritage, inhabited by Norse origin myths and legends, which enjoys a rich and accurate language.

Here is a city and a port, Reykjavík, emerging from the cold waters of the ocean and the hot springs of the basement, vibrant with an enthusiastic youth who rub shoulders with the fine flower of artists, musicians, and national comedians in various urban cultural places.

This nation, this city, is investing in a great cause, a great ambition: to build a new cultural center capable of satisfying national and Scandinavian audiences and attracting visitors from all over the world. This project aims to attract music lovers to Reykjavík, in the same way as Bayreuth, Salzburg, Lucerne, the Met, the Scala, the Berlin Philharmonic. It is a question of offering to a demanding public not one, but two perfect musical instruments.

A conference center and a first-class hotel are part of the project. Adjacent to the concert hall, they will host political, scientific, cultural events and business conferences, thus enlivening the life of the complex in all seasons.

An exceptional site, at the meeting point of the city, the port, and the ocean is preserved. The declared ambition is to put Hljodaklettur on the world map as soon as the building is inaugurated.

Creating a new architectural landmark is no small challenge. This architecture must stand out from the landmark buildings of Singapore, Shanghai, Milan or New York, Valencia or Tenerife. Each project must adapt to a context. Otherwise, no feeling of integration, no emotional connection, no pride of ownership can occur. This project could not exist anywhere else. Hljóðaklettur belongs to the site. Original, yes, unique, without a doubt. But arises from the Icelandic soil in which it is anchored.

Here, we are reinventing a landscape of total modernity, new, artificial, and which marries the familiar silhouette of mountain peaks by using local materials – rocks and stones, basalt and red lava, mosses and lichens – in a feigned mimetic gait. Feigned, because these natural materials mingle with those from human industry: glass in its different states and colors, satin aluminum covering the small buildings of the hotel whose shapes and materials echo those of the neighboring city. This friction between nature and artifice continues below the hill: the sinuous public spaces useful for the various functionalities of the program evoke a luminous cave with undulating walls covered with wooden slats, with gently inclined floors. The functional elements are treated with particular care. Set like gems in a raw gangue, they only seem more comfortable and more refined.

Hljóðaklettur is an object-landscape openly showing its contrasts and contradictions. A place of high culture and relaxation, familiar and strange, mysterious and open, simple and sophisticated, it is opaque, luminous, modest, aristocratic and arouses curiosity. Like its very name: Hljóðaklettur, the voice of the rock.

Jean Nouvel

Þessi síða notar vafrakökur.