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Sumit Singhal
Sumit Singhal
Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.

Busan Opera House in South Korea by Nabito Architects and Partners

September 15th, 2011 by Sumit Singhal

Article source: Nabito Architects and Partners

The new Busan Opera House will put the city on the international map, allowing it to become part of the network of world renowned opera houses. As another node in the network, the I-Opera will not only be integrated on an international level, but it will also serve as a landmark, on the local level. It will be present in the collective memory of the people of Busan and also be part of their daily life experience.

Busan Opera House

  • Architects: Nabito Architects and Partners
  • Project: Busan Opera House
  • Location: Busan, South Korea
  • Assigned Typology: Private – Public
  • Client: Busan Metropolitan City, S. Korea.
  • Project phase: International Idea Competition.
  • Estimate: €  XXX
  • Date: 2011
  • Surface: 60.000 m2
  • Collaborators: Agita Putnina, Furio Sordini, Alessandro Costantini,  Lina Gronskyte, Dana  Mazaarani, Daniel Ghutler, Liva Vilcina.

Busan Opera House

As an elitist programme, the targeted user-group for an Opera house is very exclusive. This has been transcended through the concept of accessibility; transparency and communication are key concepts in our proposal, be it physically, visually or programmatically.

Busan Opera House

The site and the building are made physically accessible through pedestrian and vehicular pathways and a drop-off area has been provided for maritime access.

Busan Opera House

By engaging the sea with the city, not merely visually, but also physically, the core of the I-Opera houses an open and apparent public space. A multitude of functions have been introduced through the building; they range from the public bamboo “forest” around the site, to the public pool in the heart of the building, to the specialized shopping area, exhibition space, a cafeteria, a high-end restaurant, a children’s playing zone…

Busan Opera House

Structurally, the box acts as a stage structure from which three entities are hung: the opera house and its facilities, the exhibition space, and a multifunctional block with a specialized shopping space, a convention space, etc. On the ground floor, the project is made up of three main functions: The Opera house (ritualistic space), the open public core and the flexible theatre that connects with an outdoor platform where boundaries between inside and outside are blurred.

Busan Opera House

From the heart of the building, three emphatic escalators offer the visitor the choice to reach the different activities of the building. Passing through the concave exhibition space, a circular ramp connects the lobby to a public outdoor podium on top of structure.

A translucent skin and a continuous flow of circulation allow a dialogue between the building and its surroundings but also within the building itself. The latter, like in an opera, can incorporate different performances at the same time: a pop concert, a conference, a Puccini opera, a swimming race or a ballet…


Like an all-seeing eye, the space on the rooftop has a 360⁰ panoramic view of the city and the ocean, and of the multiple activities taking place around the project. It allows the visitor to be more than a mere spectator (at the exhibition, the opera, the concert…), but also to be part of the performance, whereby spectator and actor become confused. The I-Opera becomes a medium for life and performance to intertwine, making the visitor’s experience of the space much more real, authentic and interactive.



Building in a sustainable way is vital to the future of construction and to the wellbeing of society’s future. Sustainable construction is a fundamental part of the client’s and design teams approach to this project and has influenced its design. This has focused on three main areas minimizing material use, embodied Carbon and Carbon emissions.

The key to reducing CO₂ emissions in any building is to address how energy is used. Reducing energy demand within this building has been the primary driver for its design. This has influenced the building’s form which is known to be the greatest influence over the long term energy performance. Where possible, the building’s energy use has been kept to a minimum as this directly impacts the quantity and capacity of renewable or low emission energy sources required.


Floor Plan


The aim is not only to reduce CO₂ emissions, but also to achieve a higher level of its absorption. For that reason, the site will be planted with bamboos, a material that absorbs 35% more CO₂ than other plants. (Francisco Gallo Mejia)

Bamboo is a local material that is known for its strength and resistance and because it is a grass rather than a wood, it grows far more quickly than a tree. The plant’s extensive root system continually grows underground and it replenishes itself naturally, as grass does. Unlike trees, bamboo will regenerate quickly, making it a renewable resource.

Floor Scale

Bamboo is one of the most versatile and sustainable building materials available. It is exceedingly strong for its weight and can be used both structurally and as a finish material.

Planting a ¨forest¨ of bamboos around the site puts forth its remarkable qualities and characteristics. The versatile characteristic of bamboo will also be exhibited through the display of music instruments crafted from bamboo.

Floor Scale

LED ecofriendly Media Wall

The building works as a self-sufficient organic system, harvesting solar energy by day and using it to illuminate the screen on façade after dark, mirroring a day’s climatic cycle. A famous example of this technology is the Media Wall in Beijing with its first venue dedicated to digital media art. It offers the first radical example of sustainable technology applied to an entire building’s enevelope to date.

Each façade is divided into sections of approximately 1m wide by means of vertical steel pillars. Within these areas, LED panels are managed by a central PC that can change the building’s skin according to needs (entertainment, advertising, culture, information and projection screens for events).




Busan Opera House

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