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A Centre for Contemporary Opera and Music, Berlin

2004
Zeitgenössische Oper Berlin
approx. 5.800 m2
approx. 8 Mio. €
Swantje Kühn, Oliver Kühn
Oliver Bormann
Jan Blaurock

Although contemporary opera has been alive since 50 years there is no ideal location for this kind of music.
With the Berlin Humboldhafen a site with a European dimension has been chosen: located at the former border between east and west, and close to the Lehrter Bahnhof as continental railroad crossing which will connect Copenhagen to Ankara and Madrid to Moscow, the place is frequented by some 250.000 people daily.
The project got started because there are no defined technical and acoustical specifications and standards for contemporary music that architecture could meet. The central element of the concept is a totally new performance hall which as a technically most variable and acoustically unique black box allows each and every line of vision and listening.
By its ‘room-in-room’ construction the hall is most flexible, additional rooms and levels can be added from the bottom, from the top and from all sides. These additional spaces can be used for the performance or as auditorium. The ensemble can perform above, under, behind or in front of the spectators. The vision of sound is technically transformed into musical reality. The whole outer skin of the opera-house is made of glass. Detached from the normal opera activities a public walkway through the interior leads past various sound and performance installations up to the roof terrace which allows a breath-taking view over the government district.
Research laboratories are interfacing with science and business economics. The public is invited not only in the evening and to performances but also during the day by a media library, a stage workshop, an exhibition of electronic music, a musical playground and a restaurant.
Today we do not know the sound of tomorrow’s music: but with its infinite options the design offers a room for inspiration.