The design for the Busan Opera House by IaN+ aims to define a plurality of relationships between different cultures, and, at the same time, to reflect on the value of the Opera House within the contemporary city. The result is a symbolic place representing the city of Busan, not through an icon, but through the image of the city itself which reflects and resolves, becoming thus a meeting point of urbanity and nature. The Opera House embodies the very idea of a public place: a place for cultural and social meeting and sharing. To observe this building means to observe the city, the nature surrounding it, the image of a nation and a culture. More images and architects’ description after the break.
The traditional theatre, historically back to Greek theatre witch is in relationship with the landscape ( slope) or roman theatre , is inside the very center of the city, while modern Opera Houses are conceived as iconic elements set out of the dense urban fabric, like solitaire self-referent elements. We investigate the position in between the two: an urban object, whose independence from the city is negated through a strong geometry owning to the city structure, but, at the same time, an object as center of a new foundation.
Its ambiguity is to create a new urbanscape, while denying this urbanity through its being out of it and deeply connected to the natural environment, which escapes the fabric rules, adapting itself to the soft lines of the sea. The building’s orientation follows the city in front; it is immediately recognizable as an urban element; it does not hide its identity and its relationship with the city; it inherits grid forms. This ambiguity inspires a new urban meaning for this new Opera House.
We wonder if it is possible to give a surplus value to the Opera House, joining the form to the function, rediscovering and recreating a space perceived as a complex urban environment. This project wants to define a building where the form communicates its functional qualities, but also its simultaneous autonomy from the function. A building with an archetypical form, in peaceful harmony with the context. North-West and South-East elevations are in fact those who establish a direct relationship with the city and the sea. For this reason they are set apart from the South-West and North-East elevations (defined as “more technical”) by having an asymmetrical recess.
The concavity of the two recessed facades establishes spacious, yet condensed, open areas which, together with the adjacent squares, almost seem to penetrate the interior of the building. The building is situated in a central position for the site and this centrality is further emphasized by the landscape design, which consists of concentric stripes which create an interesting and rich three-dimensional space that adopts and houses all the functions creating an elaborated and differentiated system of relations. The curvilinear shape of this system encloses the public space and defines the borders of the site area.
The project idea is to have a building inside a building: a compact core that houses the theatre and an external diluted perimeter structural envelope with all other complementary functions such as commercial spaces, exhibitions, restaurants, workshops, playgrounds; all spread throughout the free section which defines the vertical square. Behind the wrapping structure, the core is finished with a reflecting material. The architecture loses its stability, its firmness; the city and the landscape disperse and resolve on the core surface. The reflection decomposes the form weakening it, while the nature penetrates the building. The external envelope “wraps” the central core in the tradition of Christo’s interventions, which intended to “reveal by hiding”, intriguing one’s imagination.
Packaging is indeed a way to represent the mystery surrounding the object; the auditorium is something precious, to be revealed. The facade is a three-dimensional modular steel grid 4×4 m: an independent structure declaring the importance of architecture and its necessity. It consists of a transparent skin which makes the building highly porous, open and permeable.
Repetition and modularity shape high flexible spaces: each module can be reconfigured over time, and changed according to programmatic needs and use. The default use program will be enriched by subsequently introducing ideas and functions deriving from actual needs and usage; a building designed as an assemble kit of a completely interchangeable plastic model. The fundamental character for the Busan Opera House is that it no longer contains a strict time or space value which has been assigned by the architect, but it rather becomes a flexible system that varies, according to the changing needs of citizen in the course of time. In this sense the building is adaptive, living.
The all facades are communication devices, extroverting the Opera House to its context at large. Two elevations, one facing the city and the one facing the sea, are recessed towards the interior and thus establish a clear dialog of the building with the landscape of the site. The other two opposite elevations integrate the new landscape/cityscape of the Marina Cultural District bringing it inside the Opera House. By mean of a dual relationship, this integration expands the communicative potentiality of the envelope system and start a mutual dynamic between objects. Due to the multiplication of shifted structure modules, an intriguing optical effect makes the façades changing their visual permeability and depth while turning around them, like in motion perspective from the sea. Day and night views offer another rich range of variability to the distinctive identity of this city object.
The modular steel grid allows to use this facade in different ways, for example: for communication: hanging posters to advertise, the shows in progress, the theater timetables, etc; for mutimedia: placing monitors or large, projecting screens, visible from open-air theater; as integrator: due to the lightness of the structure you can see the city, the sea and all the background mirrored and reflected on the core building’s surfaces.
Location: Busan, South Korea
Urban Concept and Architecture: IaN+ Carmelo Baglivo, Luca Galofaro, and Stefania Manna
IaN+ Design Team: Gianluca Fontana, Giulia Giusti, Giuliana Sibilia, Giuseppe Zaccaria
Assistants: Valeriano Boragina, Alessandro Piccirillo, Gaetano De Francesco, Maria Cristina Vessia, Claudio Esposito
Domestic Architectural Firm: IARC
Landscape: PROAP – Estudos e Projectos de Arquitectura Paisagista
Acoustic and Sound, M&P, and Sustainability: Ramboll UK
Structure and Façade Tecnology: Ramboll Italy
Theatre Consultant: Carr & Anger
Lighting Design: DHA Design
Client: Busan Metropolitan City
Type: Opera House
Status: International competition
Total Floor Area: 48,000m2