The New Icelandic Opera

Arkitema (DK) and Arkthing’s (IS) winning proposal created a building both to the Opera, the elves, the capital’s residents and the town of Kopavogur in Reykjavik.

The new national opera is situated at a relatively high point in the town along the Borgarholt-hill in Kopavogur in Reykjavik, where according to Icelandic folklore elves live.
The hill is protected and at its centre lies one of the capital’s current landmarks, the church of Kóparvogs, which can be seen from everywhere in Reykjavik. With the inclusion of The Icelandic Opera, the church now has a modern cultural counterpart that will also be lit up and be a landmark in Reykjavik’s skyline. The opera respects this special location by replicating the church’s rectangular form. The Opera’s expressional form with its heavy and massive lower floor level and its light and crystalline upper floor level refers to the mythical home of the elves. The heavy expression of the lower level is broken up with window openings that vary in size but which all replicate the cubic form.
Over the base the transparent shining cubic tower rises up, housing the main scene and the opera’s large concert hall which can hold an audience of up to 820. The facade of the shining cube is a glass screen with LED lights which give the facade an ever changing appearance, that through the course of a day changes in colour and strength. The characteristic cube is the Opera’s landmark that will light up Reykjavik, and from the interior be the Opera’s distinctive feature. The cube continues down through the building so that it is visible from the interior, allowing the large foyer area to look directly into the concert hall. Arkitema and the Icelandic architectural practice Arkthing have a well established working partnership, where they have worked together on many projects including the Cultural Building in Akureyri.
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