Snøhetta’s prize-winning design was characterized by the jury as having strongly identifiable themes that tie the building to its culture and place while also presenting an unusual and unique expression that was in many ways new and innovative. The project developed a highly complex program into a simple general plan that integrated both a practical and intuitive sculptural approach to modeling the exterior form. Its low slung form became a link within the city rather than a divisive sculptural expression. Its accessible roof and broad, open public lobbies make the building a social monument rather than a sculptural one.
The building is as much landscape as architecture and thus fosters public awareness and engagement with the arts. Generous windows at street level provide the public a glimpse of the scenery workshop activities. The building still finds an audience with public who are not opera, ballet or orchestra fans. The cafes and gift shop, with their access to the waterfront are destinations which offer opportunities to generate revenue for the institution while providing a general public amenity. Care was taken with the design of these components so that they are seamlessly integrated into the overall character of the building’s bold design.
The large auditorium is designed in «classical» form with a horseshoe type plan and a high ceiling height, providing natural acoustics and good sight lines to the stage. In addition to the main stage there is also an under stage complete with elevator, side stages, back stages and a back side stage that can be used as a choir rehearsal room accessible to the public. The small auditorium will have considerable flexibility, not only for the stage arrangements but also for the seating areas and acoustics. The foyer will be a grand, open room with a variety of lighting conditions and views to the surroundings. This space will be characterised by its simple use of materials and minimal details. A tall undulating wall will form the separation between foyer and auditoriums, between reality and fiction. In addition the foyer will contain rest areas, a coatroom, café, bars and a restaurant.
«Back of House» These are the production areas of the building. Here one can find all the workshops, storage areas, rehearsal rooms, changing rooms, offices, and every facility necessary to produce an opera or ballet. Here the building has 4 floors and a basement. The production areas are flexible and robust, able to accept changes over time. The architecture and the use of materials are functionally appropriate, the exterior façade is composed of metal panels.
The roofscape describes the buildings monumental character. The horizontal and sloping plane of the roof provides the opera with an unusually dramatic expression, quite different from the surrounding buildings. Its openness and accessibility will allow for a wide range of visitors to traverse its many terraces. The roofscape will be open to the public, it is clad in white stone, and its details will provide a holistic and symbolic character to the building while also allowing for a variety of experiences as one moves past it.