Norwegian National Opera and Ballet
Monuments to culture, such as museums and concert halls, often exclude one of their essential constituents—the people who will never attend an exhibition or performance, but who nevertheless live and work around the buildings. With the first purpose-built home of the Norwegian Opera and Ballet, Norwegian architects Snøhetta have created an edifice that is as publicly interactive as it is monumental. Its most distinctive feature is a white marble roofscape, which appears like two ntersecting ski jumps culminating in the water to the west, yet is really a buzzing public plaza on which one can climb and experience the building without going inside.
The main approach to the building, at the northwest corner, leads into a public foyer where a visitor encounters the Wave Wall, behind which is the main auditorium. One of the three organizing principles for the architects’ design, the oak Wave Wall is the threshold between art and everyday life and, in earlier times, the line separating the land from the sea. On the public side is a restaurant, café, shop, and toilets as well as a “street” that runs along the south façade.
The eastern half of the site contains the second principle, the Factory, or production facility, which includes rehearsal studios, costume and scenery workshops, offices, and dressing rooms. These spaces are organized around Opera Street, the main “highway” that runs north-south, dividing the site in half.
The third principle, the Carpet, contains the idea of laying out a public “carpet” that is accessible to all. The white marble roof slopes outward with a decidedly horizontal emphasis that mimics the surrounding landscape and cityscape, and invites the public to explore the architecture.
The last principle pertains to the building’s urban context. The Norwegian National Opera and Ballet is the first element in an extensive transformation of the waterfront, which has long been separated from the city by a busy highway. For this reason, the façades closest to the city center are open to the public and city life. From the fjord to the south, there is a clear view inside the fifty-foot-high glass façade. With artists’ commissions throughout the public areas, the building is embraced by everyone, acting as both a bridge and anchor for Oslo.Location: norway