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Park Yourself at the Opera House
By Trish Smith
12 October 2010

The new Opera House in Oslo, known locally as the Operahuset, was opened in 2008. It was built on the edge of the Oslofjord and looks like a huge chunk of glacial ice just floating between the water and the city. It has been built so that you can walk up and over the top of it, which is a feature of one of my favourite public buildings (Parliament House in Canberra).

I love architecture that invites you to explore it from every angle and feel as though you are walking amongst a sculpture or running your hands across an enormous landscape painting. It is like some kind of accessible, enormous public art that knows it can only be successful if the people are able to physically embrace it.

The views from the top are spectacular – Oslo on one side and Oslofjord on the other. Down in the water is a sculpture called ‘She Lies’ which is an art installation created for the Operahuset. It looks like a piece of ice broken off from the iceberg. Everywhere you look you are reminded of how much people in this part of the world value good design and aesthetics. Everything looks so good.

'She Lies'
I love that the city and the sky is reflected in the soaring glass walls. This building is such a part of the landscape – natural and man-made.

When you are inside, in the foyer, you can see up through the glass walls to the outside – light streams in and people on the roof, on their way up to the top, are silhouetted against the bright sky.

The day I went it was quite windy but not too cold, and there were quite a few people who had just found themselves a nice corner out of the wind and were enjoying the sunshine with each other or with a good book. What a wonderful gift to the people of Oslo! An opera house AND a park!

The Operahuset has three theatres for the performance of opera, ballet and other concerts; the largest ‘Main House’ can set up to 1369 people. When I visited ‘Tosca’ was playing and the young man behind the counter assured me that tickets were selling very well. In warmer months there are spaces on the roof that can also accommodate performances.

In winter, I wonder if you’re allowed to toboggan down the slopes? Surely that must be too delicious a prospect for Oslogians to resist?

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