dcsimg Iceland's concert hall constructed in one of the world's largest 3D models - Ramboll Group

Iceland's concert hall constructed in one of the world's largest 3D models

The Concert and Conference Centre, Harpa, has been constructed solely by using digital 3D models. 3D technology makes it possible to construct breath-taking architecture. It has resulted in fascinating buildings, such as the Copenhagen Opera House, the Bella Sky Hotel, and Ramboll's own office in the city.


Clear communication, fewer mistakes and an improved overview. These are just some of the advantages achieved by using 3D models in the design of new buildings. This technology saves time and money, and offers architects the freedom to design unique buildings.

Ramboll has used 3D models to construct the Opera House in Copenhagen, the Bella Sky Hotel and Ramboll's own office building in the city. Engineering consultants have most recently used the technology to construct a spectacular building in Iceland  - the Harpa Concert and Conference Centre. Its facade is made up of so-called quasi bricks, spacious shapes with a steel framework and glass, on the inner and outer sides of the structure.

Reflections in Harpa's stunning mirrored celing

The world's largest 3D model

During the design process, the Harpa 3D model was the largest digital model for a building in the world. It was shared online, which made it possible for companies all over the world to work on it simultaneously - at the same time getting an overview of structures, electrical installations, ventilation, heating, and sanitation.

"It would not have been possible to realise this project without using 3D models, which have made it possible to create the unique architecture in which the orientation of individual balconies, walls and facades vary as much as possible while the incline of roofs and facades varies too. 3D models have also been used to avoid conflicts between beams, ventilation shafts, pipes, ceilings and other features which are located very close to each other in the building," says Senior Chief Consultant at Ramboll, Hans Exner.

3D-model of Harpa

Clear communication

Besides using 3D models to perform calculations, they are also used as a means for communication, and provide engineers, architects and building owners with a shared image of the completed building.

3D models may be used as a kind of jigsaw puzzle to get an overview of the outer shapes and inner rooms, architecture, structures and installations, and to evaluate where to place cables and piping for water, electricity and drains.

3D models save time

Architects also use 3D models to produce almost life-like renderings of the completed building. They can be used to simulate evacuation procedures in case of fire - just as lighting designers and acoustic engineers in Ramboll use the models to perform analyses. 

According to Hans Exner, one of the advantages of using 3D models is saving time and minimising mistakes:

"To manufacture some of the advanced steel structures for the concert house in Iceland, 3D models were sent to China. This meant significantly fewer misunderstandings and reduced time consumption than sending 2D drawings back and forth with further descriptions."

Ramboll's role

Ramboll has headed all engineering disciplines and collaborated with Henning Larsen Architects, the artist Olafur Eliasson, the Icelandic contractor IAV, local Icelandic architects and contractors as well as the American-based company Artec Sound as acoustical consultant.

Glancing up through the six-sided glass facade design.


Hans Exner
Hans Exner
Project Director
T+45 5161 6558