This opera house designed by Emergent is a synthetic mountain. It stands in stark contrast to the horizontality of the Marine Culture District, and relates to the mountainous topography that bounds and characterizes the city. It can be seen from all over the bay as a strong silhouette.

The mountain contains two nested volumes which house the 2,000 seat Opera and the 1,300 seat Multifunctional Theater. The outer shell of the mountain loosely contains these volumes, sometimes fusing with them, sometimes vaulting over them, and sometimes dissolving away to create views and passageways through a cavernous public space. Openings in the mountain are positioned towards picturesque views of the city and the waterfront.

The manifold skin of the mountain varies from razor-thin and roof-like to extremely thick and spatial, where it is packed with public amenities and private support functions. Elevator cores and other circulation elements also inhabit these poché spaces rather than being expressed. The double-layer mass is therefore an organizational device rather than simply a formal expression.

The figural apertures in the mountain create deep space, drawing in visitors, and creating high-contrast lighting situations. An intricate pattern of architectural tracery weaves these deep apertures together with a system of windows, or penetrations in the manifold. The effect is one of mysterious irresolution between deep mass and super-flatness.

The cavernous space inside the mountain creates a microclimate. It is outdoor but feels enclosed; the ‘roof’ and ‘walls’ of the outer shell create spatial boundary, but also act as a sun shade and wind and rain break. The extreme environmental conditions of Busan’s hot summer days and monsoon rains are mediated to create a comfortable, protected urban space all year long.

The mountain sits on top of a plinth. The plinth is not fused with the mountain in order to retain the independence of ground and building-object. It houses support functions such as parking, delivery, staging, storage, and technical rooms.

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