Valencia Opera House (Palau de les Arts)
Valencia, Spain
1996 -

Photos courtesy Santiago Calatrava archives

Conceived as the final element in the City of Arts and Sciences complex , the Valencia Opera House (Palau de les Arts) has been designed as a series of apparently random volumes, which become unified through their enclosure within two symmetrical, cut-away concrete shells. These forms are crowned by a sweeping steel sheath, which projects axially from the entrance concourse out over the uppermost contours of the curvilinear envelope. The structure that results defines the identity of the Opera House, dramatically enhancing its symbolic and dynamic effect within the landscape, while offering protection to the terraces and facilities beneath.

The different volumes of the building are stacked between horizontal promenade decks, which cantilever off the side of the structure. The central core is occupied by the fully air-conditioned auditorium of the 1,300-seat opera house, which is set within an acoustically shaped shell embedded within the cluster.

Also housed in the central core are the scenery module and lifting mechanisms for the stage and orchestra pit of the main auditorium. A smaller auditorium, conceived mainly for chamber music, seats 400, while a large auditorium to the east, partially protected beneath the open shell, seats 2,000.
Further events can be staged at various locations set among the volumes. For the open performance areas, the roof and defining walls enclosing the complex have an acoustical function, while a glass-covered, insulated rehearsal area is provided above the chamber music hall.

The facilities are connected to a music school situated along the southern periphery of the site, which also houses smaller, individual practice spaces and administration areas.

The Opera House will provide Valencia with a major performing arts facility and a dynamic, monumental landmark.

Client: Generalitat Valenciana