Opera House

Japan Go Full Screen

The slightly wavy outline of a black mirror stands out in the distance behind the cubic and normal Tokyo buildings. This puzzling and mysterious outline is the distant presence of the new national theater, already symbolizing illusion. This massive shape impresses: shiny, polished, inflected, strained and enigmatic. A mass that contains and conceals but whose monumental gate opens onto lights and gildings. One enters by a very wide and low door through a wall about ten meters thick. The hall is flat, massive, still black and shiny. In the middle of this space, a luminous wall irradiates all around, revealing the perimetric presence of the ticket office and information desk. The light reveals a slight inflexion in the ceiling that lets us guess the existences of big volumes above...contrast: From the lowered volume of the hall.
Without transition, we enter a hyper-dilated space, over 50 meters high, the walls and ceilings of which are still made of black polished granite, thick, set-back walls, in which three golden volumes are hemmed in, that we guess are the three theater rooms. One arrives here between two wide staircases facing each other. The climbing is executed facing the thirty meters high monumental opening on the sky and the city. This opening is evidently sliding and seems it can open on a width of approximately twenty meters. It is doubled by a glass surface. On either side, between the big pillars the mechanical stairs lead to the different theatres. One of the staircases crosses diagonally the void revealed by the opening on the city. A granite passage way comes to level with the main auditorium. Once one has passed the doorway, one discovers the third material of this edifice: mahogany. One finds oneself inside an instrument. From the ground one discovers the eight levels of the balconies that constitute the room: vaulted balconies lined with a curved brass rail. A retractable luminous column, about six meters high, gives light to the auditorium through one opal pinkish glass.
Jean Nouvel

STATUS Unbuilt
LOCATION Tokyo, Japan
DATES 1986
NET FLOOR AREA 60 000m2, 600 000sq.ft
PROGRAM A three floor opera house with backstage facilities
CLIENT Ministry of Development and Construction
ARCHITECTURAL TEAM
Jean Nouvel et Associés and Philippe Stark
PROJECT MANAGER Emmanuel Blamont, Jean-Marc Ibos, Myrto Vitard
ARCHITECTS François Fauconnet, Mathilde Brasillier, Damien Lecuyer, Tristan Fourtine, Fabrice Viney, Frédérique Valette
INTERIOR FURNITURE AND FITTINGS Philippe Starck
CONSULTANTS
SCENOGRAPHY: Jacques Le Marquet
ENGINEERING Technip
ENGINEER SCENOGRAPHER Michel Seban
PERSPECTIVES François Seigneur, Vincent Lafont, Bruno Borrione
PHOTOGRAPHER Quentin Bertoux
MODEL Etienne Follenfant