IT RISES from the Oslo fjord like a gargantuan glacier with a base area equivalent to four international football fields. Its gentle slope from where it touches the water towards the tip allows—even invites— pedestrians to wander on it like a seaside park offering a panoramic view of the fjord and the city.

This white glaring formation under the Norwegian sun is manmade.

The Oslo Opera House is a visual treat, most especially for those with the eye for the modern. The building is a perfect example of design and function, an artwork that puts its every facet into use.

The building is a sculptural artwork in white granite and white Italian carrara marble, La Facciata, designed to double as a promenade. Executing the form and function principle is carried through into its interior. This makes the inner section more than just a state-of-the-art stage for the performances of the Norwegian National Opera and Ballet.

Along the vast foyer with minimalist décor are white panels with hexagonal perforations illuminated from its base mimic walls of melting ice. This commissioned installation art by Olafur Eliasson, an Icelandic artist known for employing elemental materials such as light and water in his artworks, makes a clever concealment of the massive roof supports.

The slim angled columns, even if exposed, are designed not to interfere with the views of the waters the 15-meter windows surrounding the vast lobby present.

Contrasting the stark white interior and exterior is the waving wall covered in oak. The natural tone of the wood brings the warmth to the spaces.

The performance halls with fantastic acoustics and scenographic flexibility I have yet to see. The main one in the traditional horseshoe shape is illuminated by a 7-meter diameter chandelier with 5,800-handmade crystals, the interior’s Baltic oak wood decoration were carved by Norwegian boat builders, the audience can follow the opera in eight languages via the electronic libretti system viewed from the backseat monitor, parts of the stage is below water surface and designer Pae White designed the stage curtain looking like crumpled aluminum foil.

Constructed in 2003 from a plan that won a design competition, the Oslo Opera House was inaugurated in April 2008 in the presence of Scandinavian royalties. At a young age of the new Oslo landmark, the largest cultural structure erected in Norway since Nidaros Cathedral was built in the 14th century, it was named World Cultural Building of the Year in Barcelona on the same year, awarded the prestigious Mies van der Rohe Prize (European nion Prize for Contemporary Architecture) in 2009, and the International Architecture Award 2010.

With a growing number of visitors annually, the Oslo Opera House is on point in its aim to showcase the performing arts and bringing culture to a wider audience.

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