Prestigious architecture award to Snøhetta’s Oslo Opera House

Snøhetta’s Oslo opera house

The European Commission and the Fundació Mies van der Rohe announced that the Norwegian National Opera & Ballet, Oslo, Norway, by Snøhetta is the winner of the European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture – Mies van der Rohe Award 2009.

The jury described the opera as “more than just a building.”

“It is first an urban space… a catalyst of all the energies of the city and emblematic of the regeneration of its urban tissue,” jury chairman Francis Rambert said.

The price worth $ 78,000 is awarded every two years by the European Union and the Mies van der Rohe Foundation in Barcelona for works completed over the previous two years.

This landmark building by Snøhetta, who also designed the new Library of Alexandria (2002), is the largest cultural centre built in Norway in 700 years.

It sloping stone roof – made up of 36,000 fitted pieces – rises up from the Oslo fjord; allowing members of the public, residents and opera goers alike, to walk over the building, developing a relationship with the public structure. Integral to the 1,000-room interior, which is largely lined with crafted woodwork (using the traditions of Norwegian boat builders), are a number of art commissions interwoven into the structural fabric, including a cloakroom, a collaboration with their 2007 Serpentine Pavilion collaborator Olafur Eliasson.

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