Busan Opera House

Busan Opera House

Busan Opera House

Place: Busan, Korea

Year: 2011

Total Area: 34.928 m2

Building’s Area: 60.000 m2

Type: Architecture Competition

Architects: Eirini Androutsopoulou, Dimitra Maniaki

Consultant: Marios Maniakis (Structural Engineer)






Greek Architecture Yearbook (Domes)

Busan Opera House drives a direct link between Korea’s past and Korea’s future image.  The proposed scheme describes the idea of the Korean garden within the building’s shell and the new Opera House within the Korean garden.

The purpose of this competition is to establish a design for the Busan Opera House, which will host a wide range of artistic activities, accessible to the city’s citizens.

The city of Busan

Busan is the second largest city in the Republic of Korea. The city is at the south-eastern tip of the Korean peninsula and serves as a convenient gateway to the Pacific Ocean. This location places the city at the centre of the international sea transportation.

The city is surrounded by mountains along the eastern and southern coastlines. Along the northwest, the Nakdong River, creates a border for Busan. Busan’s downtown originally developed linearly east and west between the mountains. As the city developed, it expanded along the coastlines and the Nakdong River. With the exception of the west having a wide area of flat ground around the lower parts of the Nakdong River, all other areas are mountainous. This provides a relatively small area of flat ground in relation to the population resulting in a lot of residences being in the hilly districts.

The North Port

This area (1,393,200m2) is designated for future development. This project has intense interest both politically and socially for the citizens of Busan and the development impact is very significant. The area of the site for competition is 34,928m2 out of the marine culture district’s total area of 137,640m2.


The proposal drives a direct link between Korea’s past and Korea’s future image.  In order to do so, the proposed scheme describes the idea of the Korean garden within the building’s shell and the new Opera House within the Korean garden.

The Korean garden is linked to the trees and to the water, but it also concerns the tranquillity of the ambience and the strong presence of water within defined boundaries. In the proposal, the boundaries of the artificial, manmade construction lower to the water, in a manner that visitors can have an immediate experience of nature.

The two circles of nature are placed on the pedestrian promenade through the bridge, accomplishing a smooth transition between the city and the new Opera House, through the Korean garden. At the same time the transition from the city to the Opera House is a strong and touching experience, a route that connects Korea’s past and Korea’s contemporary spirit.

The main foyer is placed between the circles of nature, with direct sights of the city and the ocean. It is meant to be a sheltered place of transition and rest, as well as a leisure space were different activities can take place. The bridge and the main entrance are aligned with the axis that connects the two circles and the main foyer allows a flow to pass right through the building. A retail route wraps along the west side of the island, arriving at the outdoor space over the sea and at the southwest entrance of the main foyer. The foyer of the Opera House is placed in contact with the water circle at the southwest side of the island, having direct views of the sea. It is also conceived as an interior garden, with circles of plants defining the routes and the lounges for the visitors.

The island is given the shape of a circle in plan, with two mountainous volumes that sink into the water. The proposal involves a game of strict, absolute shapes in plan and smooth transitions in volume.

The design follows the idea of a music island with a potentiality of complementary uses, such as retail, and complementary activities, such as listening to music outside, resting in restaurants and cafes, all in touch with the Korean garden.


The main structural system can be considered as a pair of reinforced concrete shell structures. The thickness of the shell increases as axial loads accumulate towards the foundation. Especially at the intersection of the hills, a concrete arch is used to compensate for the interruption of the shells.