Egalitarian Opera in Oslo

Norway's new opera house, to open New Year's Eve of 2009, boasts some iconoclastic design features. The AFP reports:

Despite its futuristic structure and oblique angles, the design of a new opera house set to open in Oslo next month is far from pretentious: visitors can picnic on the roof and royals will mingle with the crowd.

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The building, which sits on the waterfront in central Oslo, was designed by Snoehetta, the Norwegian firm that created the Alexandria Library in 2002, and will open with an inaugural bash on April 12.

Openness and accessibility were key concepts in the elaboration of Norway's newest art institution, which will house the Norwegian Opera and National Ballet companies.

Outside, passers-by can walk to the top of the 32-metre (105-foot) high building thanks to vast ramps connecting the ground to the opera's roof. No barriers will stop them from having a picnic at the top, skate down the ramps or jump in the waters of the Oslo fjord.

"We wanted to reflect the values of our society," Tarald Lundevall, the architect heading the project, told AFP.

"In Scandinavia, monuments are laid-back, more discreet and more low-key. The idea of easy, free access to public places is very important," he said.

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Inside the opera, the 1,359-seat main hall is equally egalitarian. Boxes, a common feature of opera houses, have not been included in the gilding-free, dark oak theatre.
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The back of each seat is fitted with a small screen that will provide text and translation for opera performances.


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