Oslo’s new landmark

Rising from the sea in the centre of Oslo, the new, marble-clad Opera is a futuristic architectural gem.

Norway has a new landmark. The new Opera House in Bjørvika, completed in April 2008, was designed by the Norwegian architect firm Snøhetta, which also designed the library in Alexandria and the Norwegian Embassy in Berlin.

With its marble-clad surface and enormous glass façade sporting solar panels, the Opera is reminiscent of an iceberg rising from the sea.

The new Oslo Opera is the world’s first opera house where visitors can walk on the roof. Photo: Jaro Hollan/ Statsbygg.

The Opera is the largest cultural building project to be carried out in Norway in recent history. It has taken five years to complete this extraordinary marble edifice at the edge of the fjord in Bjørvika, in Oslo.

Photo: Trond Isaksen/ Statsbygg.

The southern façade of the new Norwegian Opera is clad in 450 square metres of glass, 300 square metres of which are covered by solar panels. The façade will generate 20 618 kilowatt hours of electricity a year, which is equivalent to the annual energy consumption of the average Norwegian family. Photo: Trond Isaksen/ Statsbygg.

The floor area of the base of the building is equivalent to four international standard football fields and measures 38 000 square metres. The building is divided into three main sections and has a total of 1100 rooms.

Photo: Jaro Hollan/ Statsbygg.

The decor of the foyer is kept in a minimalist style, using materials such as stone, concrete, glass and wood. Photo: Jaro Hollan/ Statsbygg.

The main foyer of the Opera is a huge open room with a minimalist décor, using simple materials such as stone, concrete, glass and wood. The foyer offers a range of different lighting conditions and affords views of the surrounding area. It also contains seating areas, cafes, bars, restaurants and a cloakroom.

Photo: Trond Isaksen/ Statsbygg.

Visitors have a view of the Oslo Fjord from the foyer. Photo: Nina Reistad/ Statsbygg.

The plan of the main auditorium is a classical horseshoe shape on several levels, with a high ceiling designed to produce optimum acoustics. Here, too, the overall impression is that of simplicity because of the materials used. In contrast with the light-filled space of the foyer, the main auditorium is decorated in ammonia-treated oak.

Hanging from the ceiling is Norway’s biggest chandelier. It is 7 metres in diameter, weighs 8 tonnes and has more than 8000 light-emitting diodes and 5800 crystal glass elements. It was designed by Snøhetta and produced by Hadeland Glassworks. Photo: Trond Isaksen/ Statsbygg.

The chandelier also has an acoustical function in the main auditorium. Photo:Trond Isaksen/ Statsbygg.

The main auditorium, which is one of the most technologically advanced in the world, offers great scenographic flexibility. The stage area measures several thousand square metres and, in addition to a main stage and a revolving stage, includes two side stages, a back stage and a back side stage. Parts of the stage are as much as 16 metres below the surface of the water. The auditorium has a seating capacity of 1350.

Photo: Jaro Hollan / Statsbygg.

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