by Jincy IypeJul 13, 2021
Architecture firm Snøhetta has revealed two V-shaped dancing towers as the design for a new opera house for the city of Düsseldorf in Germany, replete with a state-of-the-art opera house, a hotel, restaurants and cafés, office spaces, residential units, and a generous public roof garden. Conceived as the German city’s new cultural epicentre, the opera house sets clear dialogue with the Hofgarten park nearby, as well as the river Rhein and the popular Königsallee street, as a shared public and cultural hub that sews the city together in a dynamic fashion.
Commissioned by Centrum Group, Snøhetta’s multilayered proposal aims to become the new, multifaceted public attraction, augmenting Düsseldorf’s standing as a hub for arts and culture.
The new design will replace the existing opera house at Heinrich-Heine-Allee 16A, “as the current floor plan is not suited to facilitate a well-functioning opera house at an international level,” according to Snøhetta. The drawing board project instead recommends a 1,350 sqm expansion to the north to accommodate a fully integrated side stage and enough space for back-of-house functions and additional program, as well as a 1,455 sqm expansion to the east to facilitate a larger foyer. The program at ground level is limited and functions that can be placed in the higher-up floors have been lifted to minimise the footprint into the verdant Hofgarten park.
A curvy landscape design sprouts and takes cues from the same historic park, encircling Duett Düsseldorf, developed with focus on the footfall that the urban forest will receive, upon entering the space. This will also reorganise the road systems and strengthen the connection to Königsallee (King’s avenue) via a yet to be constructed bridge in the south, connecting to the west.
The approach to the foyer and main entrance from the park is imagined to blur the boundaries between the indoors and outdoors, merging the two as one cohesive element. A clearly defined carpet of granite stone forms the preamble to the 16-metre-tall transparent glass façade of the tower architecture that holds sculptural wooden walls within the foyer.
Overhanging balconies stretch out from the circular core while the organically shaped wall forms a spatial phenomenon evolving from a vertical wall to a horizonal sky. From the park’s jungle like entrance and through the transparent glass shell, one greets the warm timber core to create an intimate and comforting welcome into Duett Düsseldorf.
Vast staircases and ramps will ascend from the foyer up to a café on the fourth floor of the building, the first of the three floors in a horizontal cantilevering volume that tops off the foyer and the main stage below. From the north-western part of this level, visitors are privy to magnificent views of the surrounding area that stretches before them.
Visitors can view the rehearsal spaces of the opera from the café, encompassing the choir and rehearsal rooms, which can be opened to the audience for performances when needed. The generous ballet rehearsal space on the eastern side of the horizontal wing will extend over two floors, ensuring great light conditions and a marvelous sense of space, complete with privacy, because of being placed on the higher floors.
Spread over 25,000 sqm, this horizontal volume, embracing the mixed-use opera, hotel functions as well as publicly accessible areas, becomes a significant architectural element. It also contains wardrobes and small exercise rooms, while spacious cargo lifts link these to storage rooms, the orchestra pit, and the back-of-house areas. The administration and the opera’s canteen are also placed on the fourth and fifth floor.
This substantial portion of the tower is designed to foster relationships and synergies between inhabitants, visitors, guests, employees, and artists, stitching together the park, the Rhine and the sky, a union of the natural and built. A 6,000 sqm public roof landscape sits atop this form, with breathtaking views of the city and the park unfolding in front of them, accessed directly from the foyer via an escalator. The green, multifunctional roofscape with 360-degree views is designed for flexibility, and multifunctional use, ideal for cultural events, performances, and other activities. The three horizontal levels connect to the other commercial functions such as restaurants and cafes, creating an appealing public attraction in the city.
“From the horizontal levels, an unmistakable V-shaped silhouette reaches up towards the sky. The ensemble of towers changes its silhouette from each new perspective, creating a constantly changing expression reminiscent of a dancing duet,” Snøhetta explains. The strategically designed edifices reduce the shading of surrounding areas of the park and neighborhood, in tandem with creating better daylight conditions in the courtyard.
Programmed primarily for the hotel, residential and office spaces, the towers produce clear divisions between the functions and providing protection from changing weather conditions, while also guaranteeing a uniform visual language. The layered glass façade of various scaling and transparency enables the same. In contrast to the opaque outward facing façade, the inward-facing ones are mostly self-shaded, allowing for higher levels of transparency and increased interaction with the public on the dynamic roofscape.
The global practice with offices spanning from Oslo, Paris, and Innsbruck, to New York, Hong Kong, Adelaide and San Francisco has been successful in maintaining its transdisciplinary approach, integrating the realms of contemporary architecture, art, landscape, interior design, product design, digital and graphic design across their portfolio, and are striving to keep it up with their latest endeavor yet to take shape in Germany.