Opera is no longer a passive playground for patricians in Busan, South Korea. The city’s new opera hall is an interactive, demo- cratic space that engages the wider public’s ambitions and inter- ests. Occupying reclaimed land on the city’s waterfront, the Busan
Opera House will convert the historically industrial zone into a communal area.
“The integration of public space is an issue of public ownership,” explained
Robert Greenwood, partner and managing director at Snøhetta. “The opera
then belongs to the citizens and is an integral part of the wider urban context—
The facility’s form is further derived from the community’s context and culture.
Its layout evokes the union of Kun (heaven), Kon
(earth), and Karn (water)—which are of great historical
and philosophical importance to Korean culture.
The classical trigrams of these elements inform the
structure with a slight bending of bars and surfaces
to touch and meet each other in subtle ways.
The opera hall is conceived as a musical instrument itself, precisely
designed for the acoustics and auditory experience to resonate with audiences.
The auditorium will be constructed from solid panels of cherry wood; the foyer
wraps around both sides of the building, leaving the ground level free and
open. “By integrating the project into the public realm, citizens are invited to
experience every level of the space,” added Greenwood.
On-ramps lead to a second public space on the rooftop. The design team’s
intent is to give back to the public some of the space occupied by the building’s
footprint. Intended for parties, picnics, and a number of other leisurely activities,
Greenwood said it’s a space “to be enjoyed alone or together.”
Spanning between the planes
and enveloping the complex’s
functions is the soft, flowing
facade, which offers protection and
transparency, and links all levels in
fluid, unbroken movement.
BUSAN OPERA HOUSE