Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Oslo's Opera House wins another award

ARCHITECTURE. It’s a celebrated building, but also a popular urban space. Now Oslo’s spectacular Opera House has won yet another award.
The white marble building rising up from the Oslo Fjord has been chosen as joint winner of the 2010 European Prize for Urban Public Space. It shares the honours with an experimental Open-Air-Library in the German city Magdeburg.
The price is awarded by the Centre of Contemporary Culture in Barcelona (CCCB) with the aim to “recognise and foster the public character of urban spaces and their capacity for fostering social cohesion”.
The prize is the second in a short period of time that Norwegian architects Snøhetta has won for its Opera House that was completed in 2008. Earlier this year they were given the Mies van der Rohe Award 2009, which is the European Union prize for contemporary architecture.
The Opera House marks the beginning of a transformation of the Oslo waterfront that will completely change the face of the city. Construction has begun on new office and residential buildings near a part of the Fjord called Bjørvika.
Later this year a highway that now separates the area from the city centre will be torn down and moved into a tunnel. That will open the way for a new residential district and a couple of high-profile cultural buildings near the Opera House.
The architects of Snøhetta have pointed out that the dual use of the Opera building was one of the main ideas behind the project. The sloping roof of the building, which rises out of the water like an iceberg, is open to the public and has become a popular meeting place.
Open air shows have been held on the white Carrara marble and the top of the building offers a good view of central Oslo and the Fjord.
The co-winning project from Magdeburg in Eastern Germany represents the opposite of the monumental architecture of the Opera House.
The Open-Air-Library is a citizen’s initiative in a run-down part of Magdeburg. Some twenty thousand books were collected and with help from the federal government an unusual library was built.
The books are kept in shelves in a thick wall where visitors freely take and return books without any monitoring.
The wall shelters a green space where people can read in the open air and a scene for small concerts.
This innovative meeting place is seen as an emblem for a more promising future for this part of the city.

Copyright: CCCB/Snøhetta, photographer Erik Berg
The roof of the Opera House is one Oslo's best public spaces.

Copyright: CCCB/KARO* with Architektur+Netzwerk
The Open-Air-Library in Magdeburg, an innovative meeting place.