Snøhetta Wins Busan Opera House Bid

A design for an opera house in South Korea emphasizes a feeling of public space along the city’s port.

BUSAN – Norwegian design firm Snøhetta has won a competition to realize an opera house inspired by the dramatic coastal landscape of a South Korean port city.

The opera house will be on the north port of a redeveloped section of Busan, South Korea's second largest metropolis. Caught in the intersection between ocean and mountains, the opera house’s X-shaped design will fan towards each landscape from a saddle-shaped ceiling, revealing walls of concave checkered glass. Inside, the theatre's wooden balconies will extend upwards, creating an inverse of a tree trunk's rings.

One side of the structure will face the city, the other a circular public walkway that will extend to the port. These are intended as ‘continuous public spaces,’ say the designers, blurring the sensations of interior and exterior.

Walkable areas rising along the sides of the building and the ceiling will invite visitors to explore the space as a climbable figment of the scenery. Overall, the structure will evoke a resemblance to Snøhetta’s famed Oslo opera house, which mirrors the stark Norwegian landscape with a brilliant white marble slanted walkway that leads visitors onto its ceiling.

The Busan Opera House will attempt a similar integration of public landmark and natural scenery – and the results could put the opera house, and Busan’s port, on the cultural map.

Renderings courtesy of Snøhetta

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