The design for the Oslo Opera House was selected through a competition held after the Norwegian legislature chose to construct a new opera house in Oslo. Construction, improbably, was ahead of schedule and under budget. The award-winning design1features enormous windows and an angled roof which creates a plaza visitors can walk up to for stunning views of the surrounding Oslofjord. As the Norwegian tourist board puts it, “In Norway, climbing mountains feels like the most natural thing to do – so why shouldn’t this also apply to buildings?”
It’s winter and Oslofjord is largely covered with ice. In one corner perches the Oslo Opera House, looking completely of a piece with its surroundings, all white marble and ice-blue windows, a futuristic iceberg washed up on the shore. It’s lightly drizzling but dozens of others are out with us, walking to the top. I expected the path to be slick, but the designers have planned for this – the marble is textured and lined with raised areas to prevent slips. As opera/ballet houses are often looked at as refuges of the elite, it is a welcome subversion to invite the masses to stomp all over this building. The view at the top is, as I imagined, breathtaking.