The Art Committee
The Art Committee was appointed by The Ministry of Culture and Church Affairs on the 6th of September 2002.
Guidelines in their entirety.
The art programme for The New Opera House shall be approved by the board of The National Foundation of Art in Public Buildings and the Steering Group for Project New Opera House (Prosjekt Nytt Opera Hus). The Art Committee will carry out their work in collaboration with The National Foundation of Art in Public Buildings in accordance with the regulations and guidelines set up by the foundation.
KORO/Public Art Norway (Kunst i offentlige rom)
Opera has been defined as an art form with its own characteristics for over four hundred years. Norwegian opera history goes as far back as the 19th Century, but it was not until 1958 that The Norwegian Opera was established as an independent institution. The opera would be based in Oslo, but would hold performances across the whole country. Ballet and opera had the same status, and the first production was a ballet performance which opened in Hamar. From 1959 The Norwegian Opera took up permanent residence in Folketeaterbygningen in Oslo.
The repertoire of The Norwegian Opera has consisted mainly of traditional ballet and opera productions. The opera also commissions work by Norwegian composers in order to create and build up its own opera and ballet tradition. Opera consists of music, text, dramatic art, dance, song, stage design, costume design and lighting - all brought together to create an artistic unity. It is an art form that requires considerable resources, and an opera house resembles a large industrial enterprise.
The Norwegian Opera (Den Norske Opera)
New opera house in Bjørvika
The history of the architectural competition
The results of the competition and the comments of the jury took place in The Norwegian Opera on 22nd. June 2000. The Norwegian architectural practice Snøhetta won 1st prize for their proposal. The Directorate of Public Construction and Property engaged Snøhetta to develop a pre-project. Planning commenced in autumn 2000.
City development, utilization of the site and traffic
In 1999, a provisional research study was carried out to determine the degree of utilization possible in the harbour areas of Bjørvika and Bispevika. The study illustrated a general urban development with mixed functions. Housing was mainly concentrated around Bispevika, whilst business and cultural buildings dominated Bjørvika. As yet, no concrete architectural proposals had been developed. This research study, together with other development plans that were available at the time, took for granted that the heavily trafficated E18 road would be re-routed into a tunnel. The tunnel was to stretch from Festningen (the Oslo fort on the waterfront) eastwards to Sørenga. If this initiative was not put into practice it was unlikely that any kind of modern urban development would be possible in the Bjørvika area.
A special "postage stamp" regulation plan for The New Opera House was prepared during autumn 2000. This was done in order to accelerate the project development, even if the larger scale planning process for the whole area took time. The plan comprised the "footprint" of The New Opera House and did not make any stand regarding urban development in the area surrounding the site.
In 2000, a city planning competition for the area around Bjørvika/ Bispevika/ Lohavn was held. Four groups were invited to submit proposals. All the projects maintained a respectful relationship to Snøhetta's opera project, which had already been made public. Since then, work on the regulation plan has taken place under the leadership of the Municipality. The proposed plan is expected to be finalized during the second half of 2003.
The New Opera House and it's urban surroundings
The building consists of a system of sloping planes that rise from the water in Bjørvika, and terminate towards Akerselva - the Aker River. The construction mediates visually the transition towards Ekebergskråningen which functions as the "end wall" of the urban space. The structure will occupy a huge horizontal space, and as such, will function visually as a natural element rather than a building. Snøhetta have articulated this through their choice of formal effects and use of materials.
Front of House / the public spaces are located in the western part of the building, with access over Operaplassen from the quay and the area around the Central Station. The public spaces consist primarily of the foyer, the large theatre with 1350 seats and the small theatre with 400 seats. The small theatre will be a flexible space. The set arrangements, seating areas and acoustics will all be flexible. The large theatre will be a classic horse-shoe-shaped opera theatre with high ceilings, designed for natural acoustics and good stage views. The foyer area will be a large, open, abstract space with varied lighting angles, views and perspectives. In architectural terms, the room will be articulated through the careful use of materials - few in number, but repeated throughout the space, and with minimal detailing solutions. A high, wave-shaped wall defines the transition between the foyer and the theatres - between "reality" and "fiction". In addition to the recreation area and wardrobes, the foyer will contain a café, a bar and a restaurant.
Mid-House / stage areas and additional spaces include all the stages, side-stages and the spaces used directly during the performances and artistic activities. This area consists of all the spatial constellations necessary when offering the public a magnificent opera or ballet production.
Back of House / production area is the complex, functional building containing all the production facilities of the opera - the workshops and studios, the storage rooms, practice rooms, wardrobes, offices, rehearsal rooms etc. These are all spaces that are necessary in order to develop an opera production. This building element is based upon functional, rather than formal criteria. It should be flexible and "robust", so that changes are possible over time. The architecture and choice of materials are characteristically technical, with widespread use of metal elements.
Roof landscape - the carpet is a monumental space, conforming with one of the main requirements of the architectural programme. The horizontal and sloping planes give the opera building a dramatic, quirky appearance, making it stand out from the surrounding buildings. Because it occupies such a wide stretch of terrain - open to the public at large - this cultural space embodies the idea of communality - a building which conceptually, rests firmly upon democratic values. The roof landscape will be constructed in pale, natural stone. By paying less attention to fine detailing, the aim is to achieve a strong feeling of overall unity, whilst offering diverse "close-up" architectural experiences.
The aim (for both the Municipality of Oslo and private property developers) is to create a dynamic neighbourhood, with attractive recreation areas and interesting urban spaces for those who live, visit and work in the area. It is also important to create versatile spaces for diverse cultural activities. In order to ensure that this is focused upon during the development of the neighbourhood, a cultural development plan has been initiated. This follows the regulation plan for the same area.
Cultural Development Plan
"A culture intensive zone includes both public spaces and building masses that define and outline the boundaries of the areas. The cultural infrastructure should be concentrated. One of the main aims is to establish good urban spaces and meeting areas which create activity, experience and relate to one another." (Cultural Development Plan)
Particular parts of the Bjørvika area have been pinpointed as culture intensive zones. In order to secure activity to the southern side of The New Opera House, and in order to utilize the fiord landscape as a basis for cultural activity, the Regulation Plan suggests the creation of a "cultural harbour" to the south of the Bjørvika pier.
In order to ensure that culture commands a central place in the new neighbourhood, the Programme lists several initiatives - amongst others, the development of a cultural infrastructure, cultural events relevant to the neighbourhood, as well as a profile that promotes architecture and design. The basis of the cultural profile of the neighbourhood should be diversity of ideas, variety and both traditional and untraditional forms of cultural expression.
The Cultural Development Programme emphasises the importance of culture as an accelerator of positive, economic development processes. Culture will help to establish Bjørvika in positive terms in the consciousness of the general public and various user-groups. Consequently, Bjørvika kultur og næring (Bjørvika Culture and Industry) was established as an interim organisation on 11th April 2002. The aim of the organisation is to develop creative alliances between industry and culture, and to develop models for innovative concepts, development and future collaboration which will contribute to the development of the Bjørvika area. Another aim is to stimulate, initiate and organise cultural activities which will draw international attention to Bjørvika, Oslo and Norway.
Before the building work begins, The Cultural Development Plan emphasises the fact that all activity - or lack of activity - will communicate the intentions and ambitions connected to the development of the area. The cultural ambitions are based upon a long-term cultural investment during the construction period, and it is recommended that buildings and spaces in the Bjørvika area are made available for cultural activities during this period.
Bjørvika Culture and Industry has already helped to organise a number of cultural events. Visual art, video projects, performances, opera and concerts have all taken place in Skur 55 (Hall 55) during the period from August to November 2002. The Directorate of Public Construction and Properties has lent out Skur 51 (Hall 51) as an exhibition venue, and the architectural practice Snøhetta has lent out parts of Skur 39 (Hall 39) for theatre performances.
Last updated 06.11.2008