Icelandic Opera House by Arkitema and Arkthing

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27 August 2008 | 19 comments More: Architecture Cultural

Architects Arkitema of Denmark and Arkthing of Iceland have won a competition to design the Icelandic Opera House in Reykjavik.

The 820 seat concert hall will be situated on Borgaholt hill. . in an area supposedly inhabited by elves. near the city's landmark the church of Kópavogs.

The following is from Arkitema: -The national opera in Iceland aquires a new shining opera house with views to elf hill and the surrounding town. .The competition involved three teams of international architects presenting designs in collaboration with local Icelandic firms.

the capital’s residents and the town of Kopavogur in Reykjavik. a new cultural landmark for Reykjavik. A completely new opera house for the Icelandic national opera deserves a building with presence and grace. the elves.When building in Iceland up to the elf hill Borgarholt it demands a special in depth understanding of Iceland’s history. . Arkitema and Arkthing’s winning proposal takes its concept based on these premises and has created a building both to the Opera.

A building for the elves and other mythical beings . With the inclusion of The Icelandic Opera. which can be seen from everywhere in Reykjavik. The opera respects this special location by replicating the church’s rectangular form. the church of Kópavogs.A new opera house that identifies itself to the whole town The Icelandic Opera is situated at a relatively high point in the town along the Borgaholt hill. the church now has a modern cultural counterpart that will also be lit up and be a landmark in Reykjavik’s skyline. The hill is protected and at its centre lies one of the capital’s current landmarks. where according to Icelandic folklore elves live.

who finally won the competition. The cube continues down through the building so that it is visible from the interior. in sharp contrast to the base. where three important cultural institutions are located. A location that is characterised by the cultural urban landscape. where the walls and balconies are created from various cubic forms which tie in with the building concept whilst providing acoustic regulation. At the very top five roof gardens help to activate the building from top to bottom and provide the guests with a view across Reykjavik. The facade is characterised by the distinctive heavy base. but it is believed that they live underground somewhere or other. With the elf hill as their one neighbour and the town as the other. a modern urban district and a cultural landscape with a library. have worked for a long time in the Icelandic market. broken up by the large cubic window openings. where they have worked together on many projects including the Cultural Building in Akureyri which is at present under construction For both practices the success has great importance. The winning proposal was made public at a press meeting in Reykjavik Friday 15th August at 14. and from the interior be the Opera’s distinctive feature. Three teams were invited to the competition. The initial concept for the Opera took its form from a cubic geometry that is replicated throughout the whole building both on the facade and the interior. The facade of the shining cube is a glass screen with LED lights which give the facade an ever changing appearance. two teams progressed to the second stage. allowing the large foyer area to look directly into the concert hall. but for the town’s residents and provides Reykjavik with a new shining landmark”. housing the main scene and the opera’s large concert hall which can hold an audience of up to 820. Above. From the outside the elves’ homes are dark and enclosed. lies a shining and distinctive cube which continues through the entire building. The heavy expression of the lower level is broken up with window openings that vary in size but which all replicate the cubic form. that through the course of a day changes in colour and strength. It is seldom that one gets the opportunity to create such an exciting and prestigious project as an opera”. Over the base the transparent shining cubic tower rises up. the Opera is situated between history. At Arkitema. architect and creative leader with the north Atlantic market as his focus area explains: “We are very proud of winning the competition. in the highlands and under the cliffs around Iceland live the elves.00hrs local time. with each team having a locally based collaborator in their team. furthermore it is a cultural project which has a great sense of meaning not only for the Opera. museum and cultural centre. tradition. With this competition in our practice. From the entrance one can either continue to the foyer area or go directly to the concert hall and restaurant. The building is flexible and simply constructed using the cubic form. Their dens are not visible from the outside. Arkitemas presence in Iceland Arkitema and the Icelandic architectural practice Arkthing have a well established working partnership. which are also replicated in the concert hall. Project Description The Icelandic Opera reflects its location in its architectural expression. . The characteristic cube is the Opera’s landmark that will light up Reykjavik. The Opera’s expressional form with its heavy and massive lower floor level and its light and crystalline upper floor level refers to the mythical home of the elves. Out of the three teams. The Opera’s location next to the foot of Borgarholt hill provides a natural fall in terrain which is incorporated within the building. the Borgarholt elf hill and the church as its immediate neighbours. “We at Arkitema. One enters the Opera from a little square. that of Alark (IS) and David Crossfield Associates (NY) and Arkitema (DK) and Arkthing (IS). Hallgrimur Thor Sigurdsson. but from the inside a radiant and crystalline space is revealed. And continues. the entrance lobby’s two storeys rise up to the rest of the Opera building which is stretched over three storeys. our presence there will be strengthened even more.Deep underground.

Reykjavik. Kopavogur.000 m² with an audience of 820 Client: Kopavogur Council Architect: Arkitema and Arkthing Landscape architect: Arkitema Other consultants: Gade & Mortensen Acoustic Award: 1st Prize in invited international architectural competition Competition year: 2008 . Iceland Size: 8.Data Address: Hamraborg.

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