Griegkvartalet’s opera and music theatre

The new music theatre and concert hall next to the Grieghallen concert hall at Edvard Griegs plass, the Edvard Grieg Square, in Bergen will become a unique international venue, transforming the complex into a cultural powerhouse and unifying meeting place for opera, theatre, ballet, dance, as well as concerts. The aim of the project is to create attractive urban space while accommodating a large and intricate program to a confined lot next to the iconic concert hall designed by the Danish architect Knud Munk.

ALA Architects, in partnership with Nordic Office of Architecture, Norconsult and Theatre Projects Consultants, made it to the final phase of the invited design competition. Our team’s proposal, called “Nina”, lowers the entire auditorium below the ground level. This innovative solution ensures that the roof covering the hall and the side stages remains seamlessly integrated with the ground, resulting in an attractive and flexible public space that preserves Knud Munk’s original intentions. It also delivers a unique and beautiful architectural experience with a series of centrally located multi-use outdoor spaces, and an intricately designed entrance pavilion that guides the audience to the cultural experiences available underground.

Three building volumes are visible above ground with the stage tower being the largest one of these. In the middle of the square is the circular entrance pavilion inspired by Knud Munk’s original sketches, featuring an illuminated sculptural wooden staircase leading down to the foyer. The top of the stage tower has space for a restaurant with a panoramic view towards the mountains on one side and a roof, which can be used as an amphitheater with a view over the square on the other side. A smaller pavilion for the logistics of the new exhibition hall has been incorporated into the landscaping concept as a habitat for butterflies.

From the entrance pavilion, visitors step into the shared foyer, which seamlessly connects the music theater and the exhibition area while at the same time also connecting the new building with the existing Grieghallen. By looking down through the glazed walls of the pavilion, they will be able to catch a glimpse of the underground realm of performing arts even before entering the building. Lighting plays an important role in the overall visitor experience, with such features as changes in light intensity being used to guide the visitor flow.

With the client aiming for BREEAM NOR Excellent certification, sustainability is woven into every aspect of our proposal. The construction site in the city center is designed to be emission-free and the building planned to be constructed with Class A low-carbon concrete and a high recycling rate for steel. We have additionally chosen durable materials for the building and planned for the existing granite to be reused outdoors.

NAME: Griegkvartalet – a New Music Theater in Bergen, proposal Nina

TYPE: Invited competition, 2023-2024, shared 1st prize, no design commission

STATUS: Competition concluded

LOCATION: Bergen, Norway

CLIENT: Grieghallen Utbygging AS

PROGRAM: Theater hall, rehearsal halls, exhibition space, lobby space, restaurant, office space, support functions, 19,900 m² gross total

SUSTAINABILITY: Designed to be built according to BREEAM NOR Excellent standards

TEAM: ALA partners Juho Grönholm, Antti Nousjoki and Samuli Woolston with Lotta Kindberg, Epp Jerlei, David Gallo and Jens Regårdh

COLLABORATORS: Nordic Office of Architecture (architect partner), Norconsult (engineering & landscape architecture), Theatre Projects Consultants (theater technology), Turzen (visualizations)