Opera House in Oslo by Snohetta

Opera House in Oslo by Snohetta.


The operahouse is the realisation of the winning competition entry. Four diagrams, which were part of the entry, explain the building’s basic concept.

wave wall

The Wave Wall

Opera and ballet are young artforms in Norway. These artforms evolve in an international setting . The Bjørvika peninsula is part of a harbour city, which is historically the meeting point with the rest of the world.. The dividing line between the ground ‘here’ and the water ‘there’is both a real and a symbolic threshold. This threshold is realised as a large wall on the line of the meeting between land and sea, Norway and the world, art and everyday life. This is the threshold where the public meet the art.


The Factory

A detailed brief was developed as a basis for the competition. Snøhetta proposed that the production facitities of the operahouse should be realised as a self contained, rationally planned ‘factory’. This factory should be both functional and flexible during the planning phase as well as in later use. This flexibility has proved to be very important during the planning phase: a number of rooms and romm groups have been adjusted in collaboration with the end user. These changes have improved the buildings functionality without affecting the architecture.


The Carpet

The competion brief stated that the operahouse should be of high architectural quality and should be monumental in it’s expression. One idea stood out as a legitimation of this monumentality: The concept of togetherness, joint ownership, easy and open access for all. To achieve a monumentality based on these notions we wished to make the opera accessible in the widest possible sense, by laying out a ‘carpet’ of horizontal and sloping surfaces on top of the building. This carpet has been given an articulated form, related to the cityscape. Monumentality is achieved through horizontal extension and not verticality.
The conceptual basis of the competition, and the final building, is a combination of these three elements – The wave wall, the factory and the carpet.


Urban planning

The operahouse is the first element in the planned transformation of this area of the city. In 2010 the heavy traffic beside the building will be moved into a tunnel under the fjord. Due to its size and aesthetic expression, the operahouse will stand apart from other buildings in the area. The marble clad roofscape forms a large public space in the landscape of the city and the fjord.

The public face of the operahouse faces west and north – while at the same time, the building’s profile is clear from a great distance from the fjord to the south. Viewed from the Akershus castle and from the grid city the building creates a relationship between the fjord and the Ekerberg hill to the east. Seen from the central station and Chr. Fredriks sq. The opera catches the attention with a falling which frames the eastern edge of the view of the fjord and its islands. The building connects city and fjord, urbanity and landscape.



interior hall

Project: New Operahouse in Oslo
Location: Oslo, Norway
Typology: Operahouse
Size: 38,500m²
Client: Ministry of Church and Cultural Affairs
Schedule: 1st prize international competition 2008
Photos: Snohetta, Nina Reistad, Statsbygg, Erik Berg & Nicolas Buisson

click for pdf on Snohetta’s webpage
Via [Archdaily] + weblink Snohetta

Opera House on Arcspace!

5 thoughts on “Opera House in Oslo by Snohetta

  1. How wonderful! I live in a city with a famous opera house on a harbour (Sydney) of course. And the spotlight has been on it this week because its architect (Utson) died. He also won a competition to design it (though he never saw it as he left Australia before it was completed and never came back). It is a truly remarkable building though.

  2. Truly impressive building, as indeed this article is [I wonder what you mean when you say opera and ballet are young art forms in Norway] do you mean that it is enjoyed by young people?

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