A Film on Oslo Opera House by ArchiTeam / Interview with Kjetil Trædal Thorsen

By: Christianna Tsigkou (Interview) | Anna Varakli (Video) | Maria Anagnostou (Direction) | Vanesa Souli (Voice transcription)


ArchiTeam presents a unique video on Norwegian National Opera and Ballet in Oslo, Snøhetta’s prize-winning design that was characterized by the jury as having strongly identifiable themes that tie the building to its culture and place while also presenting an unusual and unique expression that was in many ways new and innovative.

Watch the full video on our channel:

Kjetil Trædal Thorsen, founding partner of Snøhetta, talked to ArchiTeam about the project:

“Opera house is a building in a series of many buildings that we call “keyless”: structures without keys open 24 hours. For us personally, it’s very much a reaction to the massiveness of control and of not being able to move in a public space privately any more. You’re being surveilled all the time, cameras all over, you re been looked at all the time. You cannot open your mobile phone and send an SMS from New York to Norway without somebody checking. So, creating these places to some extent is moving back to some level of freedom. We try to achieve certain areas which are publicly available 24 hours a day, which are not surveilled by anyone and you feel kind of free and you can do what you want and you can be a little freer than you were before.

So architecture as a tool is quite important because if you accept it to be a tool and not an object, in the right of being an object then it’s much easier to do architecture. Because you will find the reason you’re doing what you’re doing. So you’re thriving forward; you are trying to look for things that are located in a situation where you try to achieve something that is beyond the border of what you think you can achieve and that you can only do in relationship with the users and other forms of experimenting. Not in the form of experimenting but social experimentation and not pushing people out but getting them close. For instance, the Oslo Opera House where the roof is this keyless structure, you can walk on the top of the opera 24 hours a day with no commercial activity. (We call it now the “granny tour” because it’s so easy to walk up and down.) But it is this kind of openness we were looking for, where the sky, the water and the building negotiate between each other.

So you have the view, the movement and you are always in a different location and you move. And as you move you climb the opera roof which means that gravity is against you which means that you’re slowing down a little bit. So it’s about slowing down. When you come to the top you can’t speed up but then again, you see the view so you’re slowing down in any case. So, it’s about slowing down, it’s about non-commerciality, it’s about openness , it’s about the democratic system, it’s about inviting people in and it’s about creating things that the public will love, without leaving out the experimentation. People love experiments.

The intention is to turn a building into a public space where you don’t necessarily define between the two aspects of public space and the public building. If you look at Nolli plans of Rome, you will see that the drawing of public space also goes inside the churches. The church space belongs to the street space. It’s the same way of drawing them. Only what is private is black. Everything else is available to the public and that’s how you read cities. You don’t necessarily read cities from the inside to the outside as subdivisions of walls but you read it under the definition of social use. And that’s how we should read cities.”

More about the project here > www.architravel.com/architravel/building/new-norwegian-national-opera-and-ballet


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