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Opera House: An acoustic landscape

Part 1 Project 2003
Harriet Lee
Aisling Shannon
Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL London UK

The Opera House functions as a visual and acoustic conduit, borrowing reflective surfaces from surrounding terrain to project performances out to sea, erasing the boundary between the internal and external through the exchange of sight and sound.

Peripheral spaces provide enhanced environmental acoustics, with aural snapshots from within the hidden confines of dressing rooms and rehearsal spaces.

The complex identity of Gibraltar as an introverted, self-contained society, existing in a geographically exposed and historically diverse cultural landscape, is embodied in the existing nature and usage of the site. The building, therefore, is an attempt to expose this paradox, inviting a more inclusive outlook, and questioning the perceptions of its residents, neighbours and visitors.

Harriet Lee
Aisling Shannon

Harriet Lee’s proposal for a Gibraltar Opera House seems to cling perilously from the Mediterranean cliffs. Her scheme marries an adventurous structural solution with acoustic devices created by the form of the building and its relationship with the rocks that support it. Its delicate carapace, from which the diva emerges, is formed from porcelain and bronze so as to radiate and reflect light. The Opera House serves Gibraltar’s local community and, due to its position, holiday-makers aboard a flotilla of cruise ships that tour through the Straits of Gibraltar each season.

Harriet uses a combination of detailed drawings, models and paintings which give her work a 3-dimensional and technical integrity coupled with a lightness and iridescence.

Harriet’s scheme is large and adventurous and her resolution and invention is truly exceptional in undergraduate work.


Dr Adam Sharr
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