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New opera house in Linz designed by London architect

19. April 2013

Designed by UK architect, Terry Pawson, the construction of the new theatre, the Linz Opera, an enormous project, has at long last reached a conclusion. The finishing preparations for Landestheater Linz are completed and the institution embarks on a new era.

Before the new theatre in Linz even opened its doors, the building was already making headlines. Thanks to the exceptional standards that were achieved in its architecture, technology and ecology, this innovative Landestheater is becoming an icon far beyond its local region. The theater will primarily present opera, ballet, operetta, and musicals. 

After more than thirty years of intense debate over building a new theatre, the former Blumauerkreuzung was chosen for the new site in 2004, and the Landestheater had found a new home. Created by London’s Architect Terry Pawson, the Theater on the Park was born. The groundbreaking ceremony was on April 15, 2009, and on Nov. 26, 2010 the flag was raised on the completed outer shell.

The site was chosen with two objectives in mind. The first was to honour traditional, classical city planning and the second was to have an optimistic vision towards the future. Central to this concept is the Volksgarten. The building was designed so that the park serves as the plaza of the theatre, and the theater, in turn, provides a dramatic backdrop for the park.

Terry Pawson reflects: “In this way, the Theatre becomes the city’s Living Room.” Everything is “gathered together under one roof.” The building itself is ten stories high (including the stage tower). The outer front of the building measures 65 Meters for the glass façade looking out onto the park, 215 Meters for the southern façade and it is 33 Meters high (including the tower). The total space is 52,400 Square Meters or approximately 570,800.00 Square Feet. The theatre houses not only performance spaces, main stage and the auditorium, but also all the administrative offices and workshops, including painting, carpentry, costumes, and storage space.

The Board of the Landestheater – Intendant Rainer Mennicken, Executive Director, Dr. Thomas Königstorfer, and Maestro Dennis Russell Davies – all felt strongly that the building be frequented and used during the day, as well as during evening performances. From the park you can look through the vertically patterned drapes made out of Travertin-stone, onto the long glass façade, and feel the space expanding into a giant gate, inviting the public to come in and join the activities. Once inside you are surrounded by the Grand Lobby, which includes a box office, a store, a café and a restaurant. All in all, the spacious 800 Square Meter large Main Lobby and the 2,000 Square Meters for all the foyers of the opera house, offer spectacular views onto the Volksgarten and the City.

The Main Hall is magnificent and has the traditional horseshoe design. Its four tiers consist of the orchestra level, parterre boxes, and two additional tiers. The sight lines are excellent; no audience member is ever more than 27 Meters away from the foot of the stage. A high priority in the design of the hall was to guarantee that the audience experiences the greatest comfort possible during every performance. Terry Pawson provided superb acoustics, unrestricted sightlines, and very comfortable seats. The hall seats 1000 people, but can be expanded to 1,180 seats if necessary. The proscenium is also adjustable, with a height of 10 Meters and a width of 12 Meters, which can be expanded to 16 Meters. The theatrical environment in the theater allows the audience to be completely enveloped by the performances on stage. 24,000 LED lights hover over the auditorium at 54 Square Meters, dazzling the audience and resembling a unique elliptical ring, rather than the starry heavens above.

The heart and soul of the stage is a highly innovative, multi-functional, transportable turntable with a diameter of 32 Meters (approx. 105.6 feet). The orchestra pit for the Bruckner Orchester is 140 Square Meters. The orchestra rehearsal room, situated on the lower level, offers an audience space of 200 seats, in which the audience can have a variety of musical experiences from intimate chamber music to large-scale rehearsals.

Linz Opera is designed to be a house for one and all, young and old. With this in mind, the architect built the “BlackBox”, a studio/stage of 434 Square Meters. The concept of this space is to have multiple functions. It is connected to the lobby on the lower level by a removable wall. A staircase leads directly from the garage into the theater. Its wall, 1,100 Meters long, is covered with exquisite Untersberg marble.

With a view towards the future, our theater design has achieved groundbreaking standards in ecology and energy efficiency. This theatre has excellent thermal insulation. It was designed specifically as a building, which uses the least amount of energy possible. Therefore, the building has been equipped with photovoltaic capacity, solar energy, a long distance cooling system, highly effective light reflective windows, and a heat reclamation system.

Culture meets Ecology – a truly innovative concept – a highly successful “first”.

Translation: Pamela Curzon